The Changing Paradigm

As when a Cold War kremlinologist read Pravda, useful insights can be gleamed from the pages of liberal publications like The New Republic. Call it opposition research.

In its April 7 edition, TNR talks about teachers’ unions in a way that shows the bloom has definitely come off the rose. Here, those unions are described as “selfish” and “dangerous,” albeit necessary — at least necessary as far as TNR is concerned.

To quote TNR: “Teachers’ unions have taken a well-deserved beating in the court of public opinion.” That this reality is recognized in an flagship publication of the Left is a further indication that the once commonly accepted paradigm which viewed teachers’ unions as being synonymous with quality education is over.

TNR goes on to criticize the teachers’ unions for their stance on seniority and tenure — which it calls borderline “insane” — unaccountability, and resistance to other meaningful reforms in public education.

TNR editorial even dips its toe in politically incorrect waters by acknowledging that “Teaching recruits mostly from the bottom two-thirds of college graduates,“ the implication of which is breathtaking. It is tantamount to saying that, at a time when it is recognized that high quality teachers are what is needed to improve public education, the U.S. is scrapping near the bottom of the barrel for it teaching work force. This is a devastating blow to the prestige of the unionized teachers who strive to hide their hard ball politicking and bargaining tactics behind a facade of know-it-all professionalism.

In addition to the budget deficits and the runaway cost of the public-sector, it is this changing view of the unions that is one of the driving force to reform efforts like SB 5 here in Ohio and elsewhere. In the long run, it will be the new public perception of the teachers’ unions that will count far more than the loud demonstrations that Big Labor has conducted in Columbus and other state capitals attempting to preserve the status quo.

Breaking the strangle hold that the Ohio Education Association (OEA) has our schools wouldn’t happen in one fell swoop. There is no single silver bullet to reform. We are in for a long, protracted struggle. But genie is out of the bottle and is not going back in again.

Case in point is SB 5. Once this collective-bargaining reform gets settled in whatever shape or form it takes, the precedent setting school choice bill of Rep. Matt Huffman (HB-136) will be ready to take center stage. The details of HB-136 are a subject for another time.

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