Contrary to the Capital Times stringent editorial indictment against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, I do not view his move to curb collective bargaining rights for public sector employees as a “war on teachers.” Instead, the power of collective bargain has created a war-torn battleground of low expectations, wasteful extravagance in the name of educational reform, and accepted student under-achievement in our nation’s schools, and the teachers’ unions shoulder much of the blame.
As a public school teacher in California, I was appalled when the teachers’ union, which seized a portion of my paycheck every month without my permission, donated these dues to causes and candidates which I opposed. If anyone is declaring war on teachers, it would be the unions, which protect themselves, not the teachers, and certainly not the students. Sadly, no one bothers to consider the future well-being of the students who endure such mediocre teaching, protected by ironclad tenure laws and well-financed legal times from ever being disciplined or fired.
In large part because of teachers’ unions, educators settle for staggered and minimal pay increases on an annual basis, an incremental stipend which promotes failure and minimizes excellence. Because of patterned bargaining and liberal groupthink, school districts have been pressured to offer expensive health care benefits and pension packages with guaranteed life-time employment, all of which reward bad teachers and enable unsatisfied and unsatisfactory instructors to remain working a job that they hate or are unqualified to have, hoping to collect a rich pension when they retire.