Unions: A Teachable Moment 03/01/2011
Are you good enough? Are you smart enough? Can you stand on your own and make your own way? No, the union will tell you, that's why you need them. All you have to do is give up more of your money and show up at a rally whenever they call.
And call the unions did when the governor of Wisconsin called for teachers to pay a little more for their benefits like health care and pension plan, and get rid of their right to collective bargaining. While the teachers union claims to be alright with the rise in benefits costs, it was the collective bargaining that really struck home, because that's where the power of the unions lies. So the union had to act.
“Look.” The Union said “We know you are all supposed to be educated people who are teaching Chemistry, Algebra, and English to students, but you just can't be trusted to negotiate your own contract like every other working American. If you do that, you might realize that you don't really need us, and stop giving us money. Now get on the bus, you want to be member in good standing, don't you?”
And react the teachers did, with red shirts and kettle drums they called in sick to work and stormed the capital in an impressive display of unity that would have been a teachable moment of democracy in action if only they had taught their students to find Madison on a map. With America ranking behind someplace called Cantreadistan, only unions could muster up the moxie to tell their members to rush a capital building and bang drums about the awesome job they do.
Unions have become the largest legalized form of protection in the United States. As long as you are a member, they'll tell you whatever good things you want to hear about yourself, and break the thumbs of anyone who disagrees. They also make sure that they get the credit for anything good that happens to you, ranging from federally mandated 15 minute breaks to sunny days. But they also find someone else to blame for anything bad. “Look, it's obvious why your dog died, it was depressed because management doesn't respect you.” The result is millions of infantilized adults who believe that they can't function in the professional world without the protection and guidance of Daddy Union, and that's just what the unions want.
Look, I know teaching is hard, I know a lot of teachers, who all serve in non public, non unionized schools. But if I worked a job where I realized all I had to do to not get fired was not stick my pencil in a student's sharpener or mention a three letter word that rhymes with “Sod”, I'd spend a little less time perfecting how to actually get to these little minds and more time practicing...say, the kettle drum.
Before, unions could get away with it. Everybody had seen the heartwarming movies about the teacher who saved the world by reaching the unreachable, when times were good. But now times are tough, little Johnny needs to get a summer job to help out and it turns out that little Johnny can't read his employment application. (But he thankfully can recite in order of effectiveness all forms of birth control, excluding abstinence, so you don't have to worry about that) So now the parents are actually wondering why some drone in a tie should be getting free health care, retirement, and four months off while making more than them.
There are good teachers, many, many of them. But that's the point. Why don't we let the good teachers succeed more and weed out the ones who obviously spent their four years learning things like “Chant by numbers” or “Differentiation of kettle drum beats and incorporation into a mass demonstration's atmosphere and attitude”?
But the unions will tell you no. The unions tell them all that they will be homeless or beaten daily if it wasn't for them. And you know what? Eventually Ms. Goodteacher sees Mr. Hereforthescenery and starts to believe it, not knowing that she is the one keeping him in his Sonic money for his dates.
Just imagine the scene. And idealistic young teacher wakes up to a new day. She re-studies her lesson plans and knows that personal success or failure is solely up to her. She can negotiate her own wage, she can me her own way, in her life the sky is the limit. She grabs her bags and heads out the door, wanting to show she is willing to put in the extra effort, and may be rewarded for it. Today might be the start of a new chapter in her life. Some might call it a graduation day.