Friday, June 21, 2013

Doug Tuthill on Teachers Unions

 Doug Tuthill, President of Step Up for Students, which provides state-funded (tax credit) scholarships for more than 60,000 students in Florida, used to be a teacher union leader, so he has particularly interesting insights into how far the unions have fallen:

Over the last 20 years, the federal government and state governments have used standards, assessments and regulatory accountability to assert more top-down control over classroom teachers. As state-mandated teacher evaluation and merit pay systems have become ubiquitous, the level of teacher disempowerment and alienation has soared, and teacher unions have hunkered down and become even more defensive and conservative.

School choice is the way out – not only because it is breaking down public education’s 19th Century industrial management model, but because teacher unions are so economically tied to this model they are fighting to preserve it, even though it is bad for teachers and students. 

Ironically, teacher union dues today are used to perpetuate a dysfunctional management system, and to protect teachers from being abused by this same system. It’s crazy.

I say this as a former teacher union leader.

I started teaching in fall 1977. In January 1978, I sat at a table with other teachers and heard a divorced mother with two young children tearfully tell us she had rejected her boss’ sexual advances and now he was ending her employment contract. At the time, we didn’t have a union or a union contract.

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