The RI media is deliberately ignoring the most-important story in education.

Announcing the move of his cable news show to Twitter, Tucker Carlson suggests that most of what mainstream journalists report is factually true, but their stories are chosen and constructed so as to paint a completely false image of reality.  Take Rhode Island education as an example.

As long as I’ve been following the story, government-run education in Rhode Island has been expensive and ineffective relative to other states (let alone to private options and the world).  Just a few years ago, a team from Johns Hopkins University conducted a review of education in Providence, and the Wall Street Journal characterized its findings as “An Education Horror Show.”  As a result, the state took over the schools, but without any signs of improvement.  Why?

Because the teacher unions dug in, and Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green (then newly appointed) attempted to work with them.  Whether you agree with me that her decision (urged by the politically ambitious Democrat governor, Gina Raimondo, no doubt) was a cataclysmic mistake or see it as a necessity, even if challenging, you simply must acknowledge that the unions are central to the story of Rhode Island education.

And yet, a single four-month-old story in GoLocalProv is the only instance I can find covering John Lancellotta’s lawsuit against the West Warwick school department alleging that he was let go because he exercised his constitutionally guaranteed right not to pay dues to a teacher union.  Why?

Because for a variety of reasons journalists don’t want to help spread the information that teachers don’t have to join their local unions.  A few of them came of age at a time when unions were considered heroic, and they can’t shake that narrative, so Lancellotta falls immediately into the character of suspicious troublemaker.  The younger journalists have recently emerged from a K-BA system that is more about indoctrination than education.  Others are fully onboard with the progressive movement of which government unions are a driving organizational force.  Some are probably (consciously or otherwise) wary of landing on the disfavored list of the most powerful people in the Ocean State.

As a purely economic decision, remaining in a teacher union makes no sense for any individual teacher, yet it’s extremely rare for teachers not to opt in.  This results from a multilayered campaign to prop up union membership.  The broadest layer is of inculcated ignorance, whereby teachers simply don’t know their rights.  Colleges of education certainly won’t explain their options to students, and journalists help to keep teachers from having reason to investigate for themselves.

As the layers become more focused, they involve deception about what being in or out of the union entails.  Another layer lays deliberate obstacles to being non-union (e.g., the district office simply begins deducting dues, and the superintendent tells the teacher she has to discuss the matter with the district’s union leader, who imposes improper obstacles).  The most pointed layer includes experiences such as Lancellotta’s, which send warning messages to any teachers who still come to the conclusion that avoiding the union is the right decision for them.

Whatever individuals’ conclusions might be, a fully informed citizenry would be familiar with this reality and understand its connection to school failure in Providence and elsewhere.  Unfortunately, as Carlson explains, a well funded and influential industry is dedicated to ensuring that the public is not familiar with any reality but the one ideologues want to be true.


Featured image by Kristina Flour on Unsplash.

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