Teachers Wonder, Why the Scorn?
This front page story in today's NYT annoys the heck out of me because it's missing one word in its title – it should read: "Teachers UNIONS Wonder, Why the Scorn?" The author presents NO evidence that Americans don't cherish teachers other than a random placard and online comment. What Americans DO object to are unions using their enormous political influence to benefit their members while throwing kids under the bus – two great examples are the impossibility of firing even the most horrific teachers and doing layoffs purely by seniority. Checker Finn has it exactly right:
Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative-leaning education policy group, said the decline in teachers' status traced to the success of unions in paying teachers and granting job security based on their years of service, not ability.
"They are reaping a bitter harvest that they didn't individually plant but their profession has planted over 50 years, going from a respected profession to a mass work force in which everyone is treated as if they are interchangeable, as in the steel mills of yesteryear," Mr. Finn said.
And why did the author quote the only young teacher in America who thinks it's fair that he's being laid off because he lacks seniority rather than doing it based on which teachers are best for kids? He could have easily quoted one of the Educators 4 Excellence teachers, for example:
Last month Mr. Tougher was notified that because of his lack of seniority, he will be laid off, or "excessed," this year under the state's proposed cuts to school aid. A union activist, he believes seniority-based layoffs are fair.
"The seniority part, I get that," said Mr. Tougher, who is single. "While it would be a bummer if I were excessed for next year, that's just how things go sometimes."