10.01.2008 0

A Bitter Breakup?

  • On: 10/22/2008 11:51:26
  • In: Big Labor
  • It appears that the demands of teachers unions have become so unpopular that not even the drafters of the Democrat Party platform this year wanted to fully embrace them.

    So reports USA Today in “Democrats, teachers unions now divided on many issues”:

    “A funny thing happened to the Democratic Party on the way to an education platform: The party has visibly split with teachers unions, its longtime allies, on key issues.

    “The ink is barely dry on the official document, which outlines the party’s guiding principles, but it shows that in this fall’s general election, Democrats will stake out a few positions that unions have long opposed.

    “Among them: paying teachers more if they raise test scores, teach in ‘underserved areas’ or take on new responsibilities such as mentoring new teachers.

    “Randi Weingarten, the American Federation of Teachers’ new president, says she’s willing to entertain merit-pay plans. But most union leaders, as well as rank-and-file members, have long resisted, saying teachers would compete for jobs rather than cooperate and share ideas.”

    Increasingly, the public is becoming supportive of school choice initiatives, and also holding public schools accountable. The reason is the death-grip teachers unions have on the public system. Salaries and benefits are increased with little or no correlation to improved test scores or graduation rates. Teacher union bosses have devolved into little more than ham-fisted shakedown artists.

    As states struggle to balance their budgets, these constant onerous demands for pay raises and benefits increases are increasingly taking a toll—on the taxpayers’ patience and their purses. Taxpayers understand that in times of economic stress, drastic spending increases are not warranted. And that certainly is true if the investment being made does not produce a good return.

    Clearly, Democrats are to be praised for responding to some of these trends in their party’s platform, even if it does not go far enough by half. If nothing else, it may reassure citizens that they are not completely in the pocket of the educrats and teachers unions.

    But we doubt it. The language of the platform calls for increasing education spending regardless of results, eschews the idea of tying funding to results, and notes that teachers should only be removed from the classroom consistent with “due process” (which in liberalspeak usually means with a golden parachute or a high-paying promotion).

    It seems the Democrat platform is mere window-dressing for public consumption. In other words, when push comes to shove, there is no way the Democrats are going to actually talk tough to the teachers unions, no matter how many pay raises, benefit increases, and other tax-funded goodies they demand.

    Still, appearances count. And the thought oft proceeds the deed. So maybe today’s Democrat platform may actually be the tentative foundation for a realistic assessment of the education community. But, at this point, none of the educrats need fret over giving up their day jobs.


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