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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Teacher's Unions have destroyed education

Whenever there is an article about education in the Times Union invariably someone makes the comment above or something similar. They never give details however. If somebody could give me some I would appreciate it.

In the meantime if anybody is stopping by and thinking well maybe the unions have hurt education let me remind you of a few things. The union does not hire or fire teachers, set policy, develop curriculum, or slash budgets. They negotiate for benefits and make sure teachers have due process, not tenure or jobs for life as some would have you believe.

In Jacksonville you could only get due process after being successful for three years, THREE YEARS, at the end of any of those years a teacher could be let go no questions asked. Then afterwards there is simply a set of procedures an administration would have to follow before dismissing a teacher.

Teachers are some of the lowest paid professionals around so it's not like the unions are raking the districts over the coals. Now in years past it is true the union traded pay for better benefits but now after years of cuts, teachers pay has remained the same and their benefits have gotten more and more expensive.

Some misinformed individuals point to the first hired first fired policy that school districts have (as well as many other union and non-union shops). Well again the union does not let teachers go and if a great first year teacher is being let go it is because of budget reasons and the union does not create or slash budgets. Furthermore where some first year teachers hit the ground running most take years before they get to where they need to be. It is huge exaggerations to say great rookie teachers are let go to save mediocre veterans.

Others might ask what about teacher’s resistance to vouchers, charter schools and merit pay. Well friends as evidence has proven those things do not increase the quality of education a student receives and since that is the case we should all be against them. Yes we need reforms but they should be based on things that produce results not ones gut or whose pockets they line with money diverted from education.

So again I ask, how have teacher’s unions hurt education?


  1. This argument always reminds me of the other erroneous argument so often tossed around with great glee: Gay marriage hurts the institution of marriage as a whole. Where's the proof? Well, there isn't any, but many people latch onto such facile statements because it's easier to do than to think for oneself.

  2. The proof is everywhere. Maybe you are one of the fortunate few who doesn't have bad teachers working around you, but as an assistant instructor at a college(and a former student), they are everywhere. Every full time resident faculty member in my department is a slacker in every sense of the word. One of them doesn't even stick around in class during exams or during lab activities. He just hands out the material and goes to his office to surf the net. There have been almost 100 student complaints logged against him in the eight years I have been doing this. One student was hurt in the lab while he wasn't there and the school is currently being sued. Two girls even filed sexual harassment claims against him with eight male students in the class attesting to his inappropriate comments. So why isn't this guy fired? See the title of your story. The Resident Faculty Contract (negotiated by the union) is so convoluted when trying to remove a faculty member that it is near impossible to do so. Maybe if he murders someone, the school will finally let him go. How about another one of our full time instructors that is so bad that eighteen students showed up at the deans office and refused to take another class that he taught even though those classes were mandatory for their degree. He had only been there a year when this happened. Another group of fourteen showed up at the dean's door the following semester for the same reason. It's been two years of fighting through the union BS to get rid of him (he's still there). That's just two examples, but you only asked for some.