Unions: Cause or Coincidence?
Thomas Russell of Barrington pushes a logical error frequently confused for an argument:
I am (unfortunately) old enough to remember the state of education before the birth of teachers unions. Teaching positions were treated as patronage jobs, and salaries were so low that many graduates only turned to teaching after they failed to find work doing something else.
It is ironic that so many people seem to want to return teachers to that status even as they proclaim themselves to be champions of education improvement.
Education has so dramatically changed in ways entirely apart from the employment arrangements of teachers that it’s nearly got to be a deliberate avoidance to voice Russell’s point. Most profoundly, the importance of education is much more frequently proclaimed, and for a broader cross-section of Americans than it was in those pre-union days. That is, society has come to value education (at least in the abstract) so hugely that the value of those who provide it is unlikely to decrease just because they don’t periodically go on strike, work to rule, or otherwise bully school committees into signing unaffordable contracts.
Personally, I hope and expect education employment reforms to elevate teachers’ status, because they will no longer be associated with such unseemly union behaviors… not to mention union characters who need not be named, here.
Of course, this accepts Russell’s statement of history for the sake of argument. I, myself, am too young to remember those olden days, but the statements of respect for teachers that one frequently hears from folks who were their students suggest that his assertion is, at best, exaggerated.