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More Evidence that Teachers Unions Really Care About "THE CHILDREN"

This story about the AFL-CIO announcing a partnership with the NEA cannot be good news. But it does clarify things, doesn’t it? Time to play hard ball with these folks.

Discussions - 25 Comments

I was more concerned when the NEA helped organize pro-choice marches with its membership money instead of trying to educate young people.

Quite a logical development, politically speaking.

The only surprise is that it didn’t happen years ago. The AFL-CIO in the last decade has become what the NEA already was: essentially a hard-left political operation, with all other considerations secondary.

Yes, it absolutely does "clarify things."

Hardball against these people would be most welcome, but the GOP "leadership" seems to be out of steam. So, in the words of Ronald Reagan: "If not us, who? If not now, when?"

Inadequacies in our educational system has become the new third rail in American politics.

No pol. in his or her right mind would dare "get tough" with the NEA.

NCLB has helped cinch this status.

Uh, folks, you may recall the AFL-CIO woes from last summer. In short, this union inexorably stuck in the past. This "partnership" is good news, actually. I would love nothing more than to see these two dinosaurs embrace in mutual self-destruction, relics from a past long gone.

Actually several additional unions have split with the AFL CIO since the first two. So they are not the player they were nor will they have the cash to thrwo around that they did in the past. Still will be throwing it all to the Dems but in smaller shovelfuls.

Everyone likes to complain about the state of education in America, but how many parents sit down with their kids at night and help them with their school work? How many parents take the time to get involved in their child’s education? How many parents teach their children the necessary social and moral skills? Not too many. That leaves the school scrambling to do all of the tasks of a parent and a teacher. Today’s schools don’t just teach the basic subjects. Walk a day in our shoes. Not every teacher is perfect mind you. But before you judge and condemn others, you need to take the plank out of your own eye.

I don’t think anyone is blaming the teachers, who are generally a hard working lot. But, is education really served all that much by the NEA?

Uh I review my childs homework and indicate incorrect responses that must be redone every evening. Here is the beef. Stick to what you know and are competent at and stay the hell out of politics and there likely wont be a beef. But we both know that wont happen with the NEA dont we.

Why should anyone expect teachers’ unions to care about children, any more than steelworkers’ unions care about steel? After all, children don’t pay union dues. Now, if you have a beef against unions in general I can understand that, but why should we fault the NEA for acting like what it is?

John:

As a former teacher who was also a member of the union, I can report that "concern about the children" was a high priority in debates among my unionized colleagues. In fact, it was the union that facilitated expression of that concern in areas where the administration seemed to place a higher priority on other matters, such as raising more tuition dollars, using more adjuncts, or enforcing politically motivated conceptions of educational outcomes.


Your analogy with steel workers is odd; few people care about steel, but the amount of care is probably in equipoise between the people who handle the burning vats and those who only handle the quarterly reports. Did Paul O’Neil really "care about aluminum" when he was CEO of Alcoa? Did he care more about it than the line workers? How do you know?

I agree with John’s point, here. The job of a union is to support its members’ rights, and not to participate in its members’ jobs, whether that job involves steel or students.

And I guess that teachers’ unions can be expected to stay out of politics when politicians stop messing with education, which is often something that THEY don’t know. I am no fan of most Education programs that I have seen, but I also observe that teaching seems very simple from the armchair, and much, much more difficult and complex from the perspective of the teacher. Every time taxes go up in my town (which has happened a great deal since 2000) armchair educators come out of the woodwork to yell at the Board of Education about how overpaid the teachers are.

Then, they go home and second-guess their favorite quarterback, who makes about $10,000 per throw.

I don’t doubt that most of the individual members of the NEA care about the individual children in their classrooms - just not enough to abandon an organization which is destroying those children’s futures. How can the NEA and its membership care about the children and oppose merit pay for teachers? How can the NEA both care about the children, and jealously guard a system which makes the removal of a bad teacher a $50,000 proposition for the school board? How can the teachers who belong to the NEA care about the children while continuing to adhere to a cartel which willingly uses industrial action against school districts?

On another theme. Julie’s concern for "THE CHILDREN" rings a bit hollow after her defense last year of corporal punishment. All for the children! This is for your own good, children! Whack!

Dr. Dobson says those are tears of respect, and acknowledgment of my love for you, kids! Smack!

Maybe we should hear about this issue from someone who views it from some position other than her own comfort and checkbook.

There’s only one way I know of to keep politics out of education, and that is to privatize it. Politics naturally--and correctly--enters into every area that receives government funding. Telling "armchair educators" to keep quiet and leave education to the experts is like saying that critics of the Iraq war should shut up and leave it to diplomats and the military.

And, Brett, I think you’re misunderstanding my point. I never claimed that teachers do not care about students; only that the union does not exist for the good of students, but rather for the good of its own members. In many cases, of course, there is a harmony of interests between the two (or at least it makes sense politically to claim so), but does anyone think that teachers who go on strike are doing so with the best interest of students in mind?

John: I appreciate your point, but private schools are also institutions - usually corporate bodies - that have separate interests that don’t always coincide, in an uncomplicated way, with the interests of the children. And the organizations with which those schools are affiliated also have separate interests. That’s the point of having corporations law.

Strikes are a bit of a red herring given common statutory restrictions on teachers’ unions’ right to strike. In addition, students generally aren’t sitting out in the cold when teachers do go on strike; schools can hire temporary replacement workers. Is the disruption of a strike any worse than the disruption of a parent exercising choice and pulling his or her kid out of one classroom for an alternative?

Brett: I never meant to offer privatization as a cure-all; I was merely offering a rebuttal to Fung’s point. If you’re going to have taxpayer-funded education, don’t be surprised when the taxpayers want to have some say in how their money is spent.

As for strikes, I’m not necessarily opposed to them. There may be good reasons for workers (teachers included) to strike at times. My point is that strikes are not called for the benefit of students, but rather for that of teachers--the ones who pay the union dues.

I return to my original point, which I think still stands: the NEA exists to serve teachers, not students. That the interests of the two sometimes coincide ought not be surprising--after all, factory owners and unions frequently agree on the desirability of tariff protection for their industries, but that doesn’t mean that steelworkers’ unions exist for the benefit of steel corporations.

12:

Fung,

Not that you are likely to care, but I would suggest that it is poor etiquette to trash the blogger on a thread, as you have trashed Julie.

I recognize that the chairman of your party has said: "I hate the Republicans and all that they stand for" -- and the list of similar comments from leaders of your party is really very long.

But if you insist on spewing out your "thoughts" to conservatives who have zero interest in them, at least follow some elementary rules of decency. One of the most basic is not to trash the hosts.

Additionally, you seem to regard any support for corporal punishment as disqualifying people from the moral stature to comment on education. It is a childish viewpoint. One might as well say that you cannot comment on foreign policy because you believe in "peace studies." Now, I would be greatly pleased, and many others on
No Left Turns would be equally pleased, if you scrammed entirely. But I cannot and would not say that you can’t comment on an issue because you have a warped view of it. That would violate the spirit of free speech.

Now Davey, I agreed elsewhere to treat you nicely, because you were complaining about how mean I was to you. While I hate to engage with you, even for a moment (out of concern that your feelings will be hurt yet again) I will point out that I never suggested that Julie should not comment. Only that her concern for children should be considered in its proper context. For instance, if Julie had suggested that people should be more concerned about the reliability of their computers, it would be interesting to note that Julie has earlier supported banging those same computers around the room.

But, I have already said too much. I am afraid now that I have opened up your wounds, and that you will now cyber-bleed all over this site, because I have been mean to you.

Just ignore me, Davey. I am sure there is someone out there who takes you seriously.


Fung, I have always directed my comments at your contemptuous treatment of conservatives in general -- and at your utter arrogance in coming onto the No Left Turns site and dumping your unwelcome crap. It has never been about me.

In regard to Julie, I never said you were demanding that she not discuss the issue. You are perhaps too smooth to do this. But clearly, you were trying to claim that she had no credentials for discussing education because she lacked compassion. You did so on no evidence whatsoever. While it’s not surprising to see this kind of comment from a professor, it is disgraceful. No, I’m not hurt in the slightest. I am offended as hell that any money, public or private, goes to pay your salary.

You’re trying to play mind games by personalizing it to this degree. I’m sure your familiarity with the BS "authoritarianism" literature has suggested ways in which you might try to effectively belittle those conservatives who dare to challenge you in a way that hurtss. But I can’t think that any intelligent reader is impressed in the least by your thuggish posture.

I pity the poor students who have to sit through your classes. Even more, the poor students who are stupid enough to think you have anything to teach them.

"In regard to Julie, I never said you were demanding that she not discuss the issue."

"One might as well say that you cannot comment on foreign policy because you believe in "peace studies." Now, I would be greatly pleased, and many others on No Left Turns would be equally pleased, if you scrammed entirely. But I cannot and would not say that you can’t comment on an issue because you have a warped view of it. That would violate the spirit of free speech. "

" and at your utter arrogance in coming onto the No Left Turns site and dumping your unwelcome crap."

Thanks, Davey, for clearing that up for us!

Just FYI, when I am on the job, and in the classroom, I am a professor for my students, and I take that very seriously. This is recreation and education for me. No one is paying me for my performance on this blog, although, your responses in particular are highly reinforcing.


Thank you for reproducing my comments at such length.

David- I have been experiencing some dissonance since my last comment, and feel the need to explain, and perhaps to apologize.

It has been my assumption that this blog (and any blog) is a very unique world, where anonymity is allowed, and in some cases well advised. I have also assumed a level playing field where all are equal, and where status means less than performance. I have assumed that it is a place where the Fungs and the Davids and the Dains of the world can mix it up among themselves and with any scholars or experts who care to join in.

Obviously, "Fung" is a persona, and has very little to do with my professional life, though we share psychology as a love and a discipline. "Fung" was born during the re-election of 2000, out of a complete frustration and anger and feeling of disconnect with those who re-elected Bush. I resolved to both learn about "them," and to challenge "them" in some context that fit with my existing activities as a professor, husband and father.

But, when I saw what "Fung" had written about being on the clock as a professor, I started to dislike him, myself. If I have violated your expectations, as a student expects a professor to be respectful of differences, then I apologize. It frankly never occurred to me that I might be interacting on this blog with students, who might see me as a professor first, and as "Fung" second.

At the same time, I will not leave, and I will not give up what I consider to be an instructive (and fun!) learning exercise for myself, and I think, for others, as well.

Among other things, I have learned that Righties can be a very decent lot, and more than enough intellectual challenge. I have come to respect people whom I have never met, and whom I initially was prepared to dislike intensely.

Seriously, I aoplogize if I have let you down, and in your case, I will disengage if that is what you want.


Fung,

I’m not an undergraduate and may well be older than you are. But your message is appreciated anyway. We should all think about how we come across; I know I have tried to. And any comment on the blog can help us do this.

There are students as well as faculty who post comments here. At its best, this blog--both posts and comments--can be educational for everyone, conservatives and liberals alike, even if only to help sharpen the arguments of those who disagree. I know that I’ve learned a great deal from my intellectual opponents. A very smart man I used to know advised me never to divide the world into three groups--the evil, the stupid, and those who agree with me. I’ve tried to follow that maxim ever since.

Fung, if once in a while your emotion carries you away, and causes you to get personal in your remarks, well, that pretty much happens to all of us (although, to their immense credit, not to Schramm, Knippenberg, and a handful of others who post here). But the fact that you feel remorse when that happens suggests that you are a decent guy--which is basically what I’ve suspected all along.

Thanks, John. I agree with you about Schramm and Knippenberg, and would put you in the same category. Perhaps even a more exalted one, since you generally interact more with the rest of us than they do -- thus testing your own inhibitions more frequently -- and always passing the test.

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