Wednesday, March 20, 2013

John Stossel, after exposing the contribution of teachers' unions to the deplorable state of our government schools in his first installment of "Stupid in America", got to wade through a union protest oustide his office. He was told the following (probably by flyer, given the absence of expletives):

Our rules are good and necessary, and if cities would let us train teachers and run schools, we'd do a great job. ... We have the expertise, intelligence, the experience to do what works for children.
I love his full answer, which comes in three parts.

First, he admitted an error without ceding a single inch of the high ground:
The union is a big reason kids don't like school and learn less. Union contracts limit flexibility, limit promotion of good teachers, waste money and make it hard for principals to fire even terrible teachers.

But I was wrong to imply that the union is the biggest problem. In states with weak unions, K-12 schools stagnate, too. [bold added]
Second, he checked to see whether the assertion that things would actually be better if the unions were put in charge might have been put to the test. It has:
Today, the teachers union school is one of New York's worst. It got a "D" on its city report card. Only a third of its students read at grade level. And the school still lost a million dollars.
Finally, Stossel demonstrates that the unions are not really interested in having their assertions tested by debate:
I really want to ask them why they hate competition, but they won't come on my Fox television show.
Unfortunately, this is only the silver lining to his piece, which describes a snuffing-out of a government school reform attempt in Oakland, California, and for that reason deserves a full read.

This said, I must raise a criticism: I am not sure whether Stossel thinks government schools can be reformed, but I do not. Furthermore, I think Stossel's work here and elsewhere goes a long way in showing why this is so, and, therefore, why government education should be eliminated.

-- CAV

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