Over at School of Blog Julie points out that teachers’ unions are not always opposed to what’s good for kids and many things on their agenda are good for both students and teachers. This is, of course, true and outside the ranks of the cranks it’s hard to find anyone who argues that everything that teachers’ unions support is adverse to the interests of students or society or even that there are not many policies which are not good for both teachers and students.
However, she then implicitly takes an equally extreme position dismissing the criticism altogether. This argument doesn’t hold up either. Just because teachers’ unions are not always at odds with the public interest doesn’t mean they’re not sometimes pursuing policies that are. For instance, it’s pretty hard to square the seniority and bumping provisions in most contracts and the refusal to allow challenging schools to pay their teachers more with what’s best for poor kids.
Interest groups are not one dimensional. The NRA does a lot of good work on gun and hunter safety, that doesn’t mean their position on assault weapons isn’t ludicrous. The teachers’ unions are no different.
Update: For more context also read this important follow-up post from SOB drilling-down a little more.