Who needs a working government more? The rich or the poor? Tish Durkin on public employee unions:
When education unions succeed in wringing every concession they can out of their particular piece of a school system, the squeeze is felt mainly by people who have to rely on the whole of that school system: Goodbye, gym class; hello, parents’ paying out of pocket for all kinds of “extras” — and these are not, by and large, parents who can just throw their hands up and say, “That’s it, he’s going to Buckley!” … When a city’s police force receives so much in salary and benefits that the city is then unable to hire enough cops on the beat, who is going to feel it more? The professional who must ask the cabdriver to idle in front of the building until the doorman appears, or the woman who cleans that professional’s office, and has to hustle up a dark street before letting herself in?
And Durkin’s just talking about the effect of union salary demands–which seem (along with safety issues) the most legitimate of union concerns. She hasn’t even gotten to how, in the words of one NYT columnist, unions have
used their clout to gain job security more than pay, thus making the field safe for low achievers. Teaching work rules are often inflexible, benefits are generous relative to salaries, and it is difficult or impossible to dismiss teachers who are ineffective.
To be sure, that’s Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s ‘to-be-sure paragraph,’ in a column advocating higher teacher pay and criticizing those in “Wisconsin and elsewhere” who would limit it. But sometimes the to-be-sure graf swallows the rest of the piece. If teachers’ unions do all those bad things, after all, were Wisconsin Republicans wrong to emasculate them? … Kristof also notes that
47 percent of America’s kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers come from the bottom one-third of their college classes (as measured by SAT scores).
Hmm. Could that be because of union-backed credentialism that requires teachers to take mind-numbing ed school courses that scare off better students? But there I go giving credence to Kristof’s teacher-bashing! He’s saying they aren’t smart enough. Doesn’t he realize talk like that will “demean the profession”? …
P.S.: Kristof denies he wants to throw money at the “low achievers” who are now teaching ineffectively. He claims the “pay should be for performance, with more rigorous evaluation.” Good idea! But the teachers’ unions are the people who will fight that idea tooth and nail, and probably win. Again, it seems as if Kristof should back Gov. Walker. … P.P.S.: I suspect he half-does. But a column headlined “Pay Teachers More” was a nice, safe distraction that let his liberal reader base think he’s more on their side than he really is. …