We have allowed educators to bargain collectively for far too long.
Collective bargaining originated as a remedy against employers who abused their employees economically. I don’t recall a single time or jurisdiction where school boards abused their employees. In the usual collective bargaining setting, unions bargaining for more pay and benefits for their members negotiated with managers who also had the higher obligation of producing a profit for stockholders. Not so with the ‘managers’ across the table from the unions in the public agency setting. It’s easy to picture the union sitting on both sides of the table in union-public agency negotiations.
It’s far easier today to imagine the process as both sides at the negotiating table ganging up on the taxpayer.
We’ve all been watching the protests and counter-protests in WI as Governor Walker tries to repair the budget. Let’s be clear: he’s not trying to infringe anybody’s first amendment rights or cut the average $100k pay and benefits of any Milwaukee teachers. He wants them to pay for part of their own medical plan. He wants annual re-certification elections for teachers’ unions and for union members to pay their dues outside the state payroll system.
Yes, that is tantamount to breaking the backs of the unions. Let me tell you how I feel about unions having to convince their members on a year-to-year basis that they deliver value on a year to year basis. To explain it, I’l use a term that educators themselves inflicted on our society: Zero Tolerance.
The first I heard of Zero Tolerance, it was applied to the issue of bringing guns to school. You remember.
It quickly escalated from there. Zero Tolerance was found useful by educators trying hard to abdicate their basic responsibilities to the public they serve. So it was applied to many varied behaviors that this or that district did not want to have to deal with. Zero Tolerance meant that they did not have to think hard to find creative solutions to minor behavioral problems — they could just pick up the phone and call the police.
This child is suspended from school for bringing a nail to school (I’m sure it was an assault nail). Another child causes police to be summoned and is placed under arrest for pointing a chicken finger at a teacher and saying “bang, bang.” Supply your own story. We all know a dozen of them. Zero Tolerance.
Historically, we expected teachers to help socialize (in the old sense) our children. To help teach them how to get along. Once upon a time, teachers were expected to settle fights, and other struggles and behavior problems, rarely involving the principal, and never involving the police. They have successfully repudiated and abdicated that basic social function today. Where they do help our children ‘socialize’, it’s to ‘socialize’ as good little marxists. Political tolerance? Zero Tolerance. Recall all the cute Obama songs that were so proudly videotaped by their teachers.
It was interesting to observe my son’s experience in his last year of grade school in the People’s Republic of Santa Monica as the standardized tests approached. The stress among the teachers was palpable. Predictably enough, they projected their stress onto the children, never suspecting how they were tilting their hand by so doing, but it was so obvious. Finally, in a frenzy of activity to deal with all the stress, that followed the frenzy of ‘teaching to the test’, the principal scheduled a parent-child meeting in the auditorium to help the parents and kids deal with all the stress. They had guided meditations for the kids on the auditorium stage. Even some of the confirmed lib parents rolled their eyes at me. The kids went along gamely. My son had already figured out he had no dog in this fight. What was at stake, of course, was funding – not a single student’s grades or passage to the next grade level. No wonder the teachers and educators were all stressed. For the less cognizant, the educators did manage to finally achieve ‘stress justice’, successfully inflicting their own stress on a good number of the parents and kids.
Let’s not even talk about achievement test scores or graduation rates. We all know the score there. Vouchers? You already know. The public education racket is being threatened from half a dozen different directions. Zero Tolerance.
Teachers today are frequently overpaid self-anointed aristocrats who have every right to expect us to learn their specialized, arcane jargon to discuss our own childrens’ education, while holding the threat over our heads of allowing our children to become little felons if we don’t tug our forelocks with suitable abjection in their presence. Or, if they have a vague suspicion they don’t want to deal with, they can always call Children’s Services.
I am all for firing teachers who present falsified doctors’ statements to excuse their illegal absence for political activity. Zero Tolerance. At the rates they are paid, teachers should be expected to do their demonstrating on Saturday, or after 3:30pm like the rest of us.
Let the unions thrive, but not from payrolls and union dues taken directly from the taxpayers’ pockets, where negotiators on the far side of the table have no incentive to protect the taxpayers.
Let the unions prove their worth to their members year by year, and make their services of enough value that eager members will rush to the union web sites to plug in their credit card numbers for the monthly auto-charge. The union treasuries will hardly suffer.
I’ve had enough of public sector unions organizing to pick the public pocket, then spend the proceeds electing liberal politicians who will pick our pockets for more. I’ve had enough of politicians who permit it. Let the unions divert some of that $160 million they used to get liberal politicians elected and use it to deliver valuable services to their union members.
But the unions are in big trouble, and they know it. No wonder the WI organizers were busing in thugs from out of state and hyperventilating in front of any TV camera they could find.
And now we have arrived in a place where “it’s for the children” sounds just as obscene as the word “entitlement”.