Since the start of the teacher strike in Chicago I have received a number of comments and emails from people who either purposefully or unintentionally misrepresent my views on unions and education. The missives vary from calling me a “WHORE to the unions” to suggesting the problems with education are “expressly [my] fault.”
While I have posted on both unions and education in the past, my intention has never been blanket support of unions and their goals, but rather to counter the misinformation being spread by those who oppose unions.
For example the rhetoric surrounding teachers recently has been that teachers unions are at fault for the increase in spending and as a result their wages should be cut. Whether teachers are properly compensated has been debated ad nauseam but I take issue with the idea that teachers should reduce their pay because of higher per pupil spending.
This solution draws a conclusion without all of the facts. In Michigan the average teacher’s pay has been reduced by 7.7% since the 1999-2000 school year, yet per pupil spending has increased by nearly 20%. How can you blame the teachers for the increase in spending when they have taken a pay cut?
Similarly, people act like the teachers unions are to blame for the stagnation of test scores over the past 30 years, yet the percentage of teachers in unions went from 84% in 1989 to 38% in 2010. If the rhetoric surrounding this were correct and unions were to blame for low test scores, we should have seen a steady increase in test scores as the number of teachers in unions decreased.
So does presenting this information that runs counter to current talking points mean I support the Chicago teachers union protecting poor performing teachers? Nope. Does it mean I care more about teachers unions than the kids? Nope.
It means there is a rational debate to be had regarding teachers, unions and the success of America’s education system and that debate should include a thorough analysis of what works and what doesn’t. Because throwing brickbats solely on the basis of political affiliation doesn’t help the kids either.