The following letter appears at ExtremeWisdom.com. Be sure to visit Bruno Behrend's website for more letters. For those living in Lake County you can listen to his radio show on WKRS 1220 from 6 - 8 p.m.
Our Union Focused Only on the Teachers
Your May 4 editorial "rotten apples" expressed a belief I've held for almost 50 years; "... unions pretend their political actions are in the interests of "the children" -- except when that conflicts with their own economic self-interest."
Not once in my 35-year teaching career did the Union -- mine was the Michigan Education Association -- negotiate an item not having teacher benefit at its center. It did get me a perpetually better salary, a great medical plan, some extra duty pay for extra work, at least one class period to be devoted to preparation, and some other class-size control attempts. But I, even in retirement, still cannot find a direct correlation between these " negotiated" features and improved teacher classroom performance.
Everything was for me and my fellow teachers. We were all paid the same, a typical Union maneuver, which means no incentive for one to excel, even though some did. And the Union protected members equally regardless of competence. Certification rather qualification determined hiring practices. Most school administrators doing teacher valuations are only competent to assess those teaching in their own former area of classroom teaching. Morals were the only reason any teacher was ever released at my school.
I will eternally remember an admonition from a regional MEA leader to "take coil wires, put sugar in gas tanks, and let air out tires of scabs [teachers who had taken positions of strikers]" during an unusually bitter contract negotiation. Considering all of this along with what you cited in your editorial, it's a real stretch to find the Union rationale that "we care about kids."