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Do Unions Belong in the Fight Against Corporate School Reform?


Do Unions Belong in the Fight Against Corporate School Reform?

Steven Singer

In the fight for public education, the forces of standardization and privatization are running scared.

They’ve faced more pushback in the last few years – especially in the last few months – than in a decade.


The cornerstone of the Koch Brothers' network of well-funded think tanks is a frontal assault on unions.

By breaking the back of unions a number of inevitable outcomes result:

  1. Wages are lowered and kept low
  2. Workers cannot effectively band together to leverage better conditions and wages
  3. The Middle Class is slowly decimated
  4. The dearth of jobs grants to employers more privileges as workers compete for the existing available jobs
  5. The spotlight is taken OFF the perpetrators and used to demonize the victims of policies which are a reflection of the hegemonic interests (and paid for political clout) of the 1%

The attack on teachers' unions is but another step on the ladder of full-scale corporate conquest over all aspects of citizens' lives.

TPP and TIPP are the cherries on the cake as they will essentially nullify all Labor Laws and Environmental Laws and associated Civil Liberties granting all legal rights to those on the receiving end of raw, naked profit. To HELL with everything else.

And since the same 1% interests OWN the mainstream (corporate) media, they will frame their various contrivances under positive sounding policy names and related narratives... like "No child left behind" or "The Healthy Forest Initiative."

Lies and liars are writing the national scripts today and there is ZERO accountability for their actions.


"The cornerstone of the Koch Brothers' network" and Republicans is to privatize the world.
Their objective is to make maximum profit off everything.
Sick and dying people.
Our water and land.
Schools and prisons.
Hell, they would even charge us for the air we breath if they could figure out a way to do it and make a profit.

Ain't Capitalism grand.


The local big city newspaper usually starts publishing articles about education this time of year. Since teachers' unions in this state negotiate their contracts every two years, the anti-teacher, anti-union articles are more prevalent during those years.

As I read and often comment on those articles as a retired teacher, I see the same handful of regressive anti-teacher, anti-union quacks publishing early and often on the comment boards. Common arguments often say, "We like teachers, it's those blasted unions that are the problem." The posters can't or won't accept that on the local and state level, the unions ARE the teachers.

The Antis harp on and on about "getting rid of bad teachers." What they refuse to see and accept is that the unions use "due process rights" to protect teachers against unfair dismissal. That is much different from protecting "bad teachers."

And of course, the Antis always bring up "three months off in the summer." Most teachers I know would relish a year round contract. It would save them from endless hours roofing, standing on a step ladder painting houses, or doing other labor intensive short term jobs for whatever pay they can find. (Keep in mind that in school buildings, usually only the office is air-conditioned. What other business denies a/c to its workers or clients?)

I bookmarked this article, and I intend to use parts of it on those comment boards. Sorry for being long-winded, but usually there are FEW comments on education related articles here on Common Dreams.


Look at the banner in the photo, those are public school teachers trying to educate you on what is needed. Bill Gates, Campbell Brown, and all these other corporation charter school vultures are trying to distract you, so they can move in for the kill. Campbell Brown, Bill Gates, and other corporation charter schools vultures want to destroy America's Public Schools system. There will be no place for Special Education kids, and other kids that need special help in Bill Gates, Campbell Brown, and other vulture's in corporation charter schools.


Erroneous post.


From the article: "In most cases, the leaders of national teachers unions are at too much of a remove to see what is best for our schools."

To which we should add, not nearly far enough removed from the money influencing the process.

The article goes on to state: "It comes from the grassroots. This is not a top down initiative. It is bottom up."

There they go again with that hideous and over-played term 'grassroots', as if it had any meaning in today's political environment. As with the electorate at large, the concerns of most union rank and file remain equally irrelevant to the agenda espoused by their leadership.
This being the case, the question asked by the article is itself a loaded one, for so long as the leadership remains so captive to the cash, it just might be best that they keep their mouths shut. For the present, unions have provided little more than insignificant lip service to our pressing issues. They remain strategically detached enough so as to effect little in the way of progress or change while maintaining the veneer activism in a vacuum of solidarity. Unions were once effective through their mutual solidarity, lending the strength of collective numbers in support of the needs of workers across the board---when was the last time one heard of a general strike? How is it the unions remained so relatively quiet as NAFTA, GATT, and WTO went down? Where are they now as TPP, TTIP, TISA loom ahead? ----they end up supporting the most likely candidate to sign all three!
To borrow from Tommy Lasorda on Kingman's big day, "Jesus Christ."


How about the forum's advocates for Charter Schools and related demonizing of public schools/public education?


I strongly support teachers' unions and public schools. But as the spouse of a longtime and dedicated substitute teacher, I also know some of the cracks in their protection of quality education. Talk about year-round contracts?


The capitalist's success in the demonization of unions through outright lies repeated over and over and over again, is quite breathtaking. Many of my coordinator-class acquaintances will only intone the word "union" with a sound like they have nausea or something.

And then there was this dirt-poor guy on the bus yesterday complaining about the union bus drivers being "the highest paid in the USA" (something that is not true) The meme of PAT's over paid "uooonion" (gagging sounds) workers has been indoctrinated into all Pittsburghers - rich and most sadly, poor.


If the poor knew how truly weak the rich actually were and how powerful they really are, this entire system would be turned on its head in a heartbeat.
That's a lesson that the oligarchy demands never be learned in school by anybody including the teachers.
Or have you had a different experience from my own?


They exist, but they are not nearly as nasty as the posters on the www.startribune.com.


What exactly are you saying? Please elaborate. I am and have been a substitute teacher since I retired in 2009.


I know that it varies from state and district to district, but my husband was required to join the union, though he was left out of all negotiations and defenses.


You don't live in a backwards right-to-work state do you?
As a dues paying member of the union it's curious that you husband couldn't participate in union activities???


I would ask "like what," but I don't want to derail the thread.


Again, I don't want to derail the thread. Suffice it to say that pay for substitutes (and tutoring of homebound students) was not included in the district contract, even when he had weeks-long assignments.


It's too bad that the unions don't have the strength and solidarity with one another to call for national strikes and make it stick. Actions like that are the only way working people could get leverage against the bosses and owners.


I notice, too, that the anti crowd who harp on about Unions not getting rid of bad teachers rarely, if ever, demand the same treatment for bad cops...


I'm guessing that you are not directly involved in classroom teaching. Here's a fact: the minute a teacher walks away from their students, EVERYTHING is politics. The secretaries and custodians have their own unions, and everything that happens in the building is subject to the principal and other administrators.

Adopting a new curriculum takes at least a year of study (often chaired by an administrator, and subject to district budget constrictions.) I served sequentially on various curriculum committees as did most of my colleagues. Typically the adoption was on a seven year cycle (study, selection, implementation, evaluation, etc.) Political.

Dealing with parents, especially with a child enrolled in special education, is an art in itself. A teacher is usually appointed "Child Study Coordinator" and serves as the head of the special education teachers. The Coordinator is responsible to make sure all the paperwork meets district, state, and especially US government standards. The buck stops at their desk during an audit. Politics.

I could go on and on, but I'm sure you get the drift. Politics, politics, politics.