The Focus of the Advocates
Julia Steiny’s column last Sunday focused on declining numbers of students in Rhode Island, but the paragraphs on the cause stick in the mind:
Mather elaborates, “In general terms, people leave New England because of job growth elsewhere. Many young people go to New England for college, but when they’re finished or ready to start a family, they go where there are more opportunities, more affordable housing, and a warmer climate.”
Well, but NCES shows that also-not-warm mountain states Idaho and Colorado both will enjoy double-digit growth, 26 and 19 percent respectively, between 2006 and 2018. Even Nebraska and Minnesota are growing.
So yes, says John Simmons of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, the state’s economy is the issue. He sighed as he rattled off a laundry list of badly needed changes to the state’s tax structure, health-care system, pensions, and onerous regulatory burden. “If we don’t begin to make changes today, by 2012, the problems become unsolvable. This has to be faced.”
If it were actually true that, as outgoing National Education Association General Counsel Bob Chanin put it, “what unions do first and foremost is represent their members,” it seems to me their focus would be wholly different. They wouldn’t be funding left-wing Web sites and advocating for growth-killing progressivism.
Over at Assigned Reading, Mike, himself an RI teacher, reacted to a speech by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten thus:
Weingarten reveals through her speech what is an essential conflict: teachers unions only play for one team. Teachers unions have become arms of the Democratic party, activists for liberal causes and champions of politicians on the left. By aligning themselves with one side, they have effectively created enemies of the other. And they are major players in the blame game.
It isn’t only the divisiveness and political activism, per se, to which union members ought to object, in this. They should find it unacceptable that the union organizations to which they pay so much in dues, and whose baggage they must carry, locally, are ideologically hindered from advocating for policies that would help membership in the long-term — policies that increase the wealth of taxpayers and expand the class of young clients.