Friday, April 1, 2011

Even with all of its faults, I’m sticking with the union | Thoughts on Public Education #wiunion #labornotes #union

Even with all of its faults, I’m sticking with the union | Thoughts on Public Education

Even with all of its faults, I’m sticking with the union

By Peter Schrag

Given the national wave of public sector union bashing, it’s not surprising that people like Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, is out making speeches about the virtues of collective bargaining in public education.

The case against teachers unions has been simmering for decades, with horror stories about the rubber room in New York (now gone); countless instances of union resistance to modification of rigid seniority rules in promotion and layoffs, and, often, general insensitivity to the needs of children and the concerns of parents.

It had to blow – and what more likely time than during a recession and the accompanying tight state and local budgets. Nor does it come only from the Republicans of Wisconsin and Ohio (and Washington, D.C.), but from national foundations and from fully certified liberals like Davis Guggenheim, whose film Waiting for Superman portrays Weingarten as a villain in the struggle of parents to get their children into decent schools. Even Barack Obama and his education secretary Arne Duncan don’t seem so sure.

But Weingarten’s effort – I heard her in the East Bay suburb of Lafayette last week – was but a frail dike against that wave. She told stories to illustrate how bottom-up input in collective

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