A New York Times article titled “Teachers Wonder, Why the Scorn?” states: “Around the country, many teachers see demands to cut their income, benefits and say in how schools are run through collective bargaining as attacks not just on their livelihoods, but on their value to society.”
Absolutely, positively teachers should not feel this battle is focused on them. We all have fond memories of our great teachers. This battle is against the union leadership. While in some states teachers must join the union and are forced to give financial support to the unions, that is not the case in Tennessee and it should be said that those who willingly give financial support to the union bare some responsibility for the condition of Tennessee education.
There is no denying as an entire nation the US is not just failing to educate our children, but failing to prepare them to compete in an increasingly technical global market. The United States ranks 14th in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in mathematics.
It just gets worse from there for Tennessee’s children. The US News & World Report’s ranks Tennessee 36th; Tennessee’s composite ACT score ranks it fourth from the bottom of the nation; In the 2009 SAT Scores Tennessee students rank 38th in critical reading, 36th in mathematics & 42nd in writing.
Why do we accept this? Our children aren’t just too stupid to learn! We are (at least for now) the leading economy in the world. So why are our children failing? Because the union leadership prevents any and all competition, tooth and nail. We are using a 19th century education model in the 21st century. As the case has been made, “It is through political patronage, not collective bargaining that the teachers unions protect their members…from competition. …the real benefit the unions provide their members is protecting them from having to compete in the educational marketplace. The NEA and AFT spend large sums on political lobbying so that public school districts maintain their monopoly control of well over half a trillion dollars in annual U.S. K-12 education spending.”
Union leadership prevents parents from finding schools which would meet the unique, individual needs of their children (in safety) by preventing free market competition. It is no longer credible to deny the success of free market education – vouchers, charter schools, home and private schooling, free market education systems available in Europe, etc. There is an abundance of evidence to show every form of free market education surpasses the broken, government run, union controlled, one size fits all monopoly of public education.
How many more generations will we condemn to public education before we care more for our children than we fear taking on unions or change. Teachers need to join the fight for free market education through vouchers for EVEY child in Tennessee. Vouchers are the BEST way to become the leader in educating children, not just in the US, but in the world. The education options for meeting unique needs are endless and the free market would seek to fill those needs. Pepsi-Coke, paper-plastic, land line-cell, GM-Ford. Free choice is what makes this country great-except when it comes to education.