Friday, October 28, 2011

Why Teachers' Unions?

You hear that question all the time.  But it's not really a question at all.  No, invariably it's the opening salvo of a diatribe against hard working professionals, which quickly degenerates into the vilest of ad hominem attacks.  You know, the charge of selfish concern for only themselves and callous disregard for actually educating the kids, and on and on, blah, blah, blah.

This crap usually comes from folks who themselves, or their ideological predecessors, have been on a mission to destroy public education in this country since the Brown vs. The Board of Education decision, which brought about public school integration.  It has taken them a while, but they stand on the verge of total victory. 

That is what the Charter Schools movement is all about.  End of story.  We are facing the imminent prospect of its complete take over of the public school system statewide, as a result of the current round of BESE (Board of Elementary and Secondary Education) seat elections.  If only one more of the movement's candidates wins in the runoffs next month, there will be a "super majority" of them on the Board, and they will pick John White as State Superintendent.  He is so bad, he even favors extending tax funded vouchers for private school tuition.  R.I.P. public education, done deal.

I have resisted getting too deeply into this fight  because I have long thought it lost, at least for the foreseeable future.  But if more commotions like that which took place at the Algiers Charter Schools Association meeting last night occur, I might be proven wrong.  Hope so.

Get a load of the following quote, which we picked up courtesy of The Lens blog site, Algiers Charter Schools considers revoking teacher pensions, from their Board Chairman, Charles Rice, regarding the now abandoned attempt to pull pension coverage away from the teachers:

“We as a board have an obligation to make sure that these schools are financially viable,” he said. Later, he mentioned that in his industry – his day job is Entergy, Inc.’s chief executive officer – employers make decisions about employee retirement at will, and the employees are rarely notified before the fact. The crowd jeered at his statement.

Mind you, these miscreants (the board) had secretly pulled the funding from and participation in the Louisiana Teachers Retirement System when they filed the most recent Charter renewal form with the state.  They did it in the dark, with no public announcement or input.  When the teachers were later notified of the move to end their participation in the program, an ad hoc group consisting of a representative from the legal profession, a local broadcast personality, the general public, and a great many of the teachers came together at the board meeting to question the legality and propriety of the change.  They succeeded in forestalling the attempt to strip teachers of this benefit, a move aimed solely at maintaining the vulgar profitability of the Charter operation, euphemistically known as the financial viablity of non-profits partnered with money making business interests.  But this kind of spontaneous grassroots effort to challenge abusive authority is rarely victorious, and usually sees its accomplishments kicked aside shortly after the fire, smoke and enthusiasm of the initial skirmish dissipates.

That's why teachers need unions.  Any more questions?

UPDATE:  Please visit The Lens blog site and story referenced in this piece to read a complete report of the meeting by Jessica Williams, as well as two later technical corrections she made to the initial story.

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