13 Replies to “Must Read Flanagan!”

  1. To Hell With Caitlin Flanagan
    Caitlin Flanagan, as it turns out, is no happy housewife quietly tending to husband and child, but a “domestic diva” who delegates the actual housework to the less fortunate, leaving her free to wax eloquent about the virtues of homemaking in lengthy essays in the New Yorker.


  2. There is no question that success stories like this deserve to be studies and emulated. The problem with this article is that (as usual) it blames everything on the unions. Thanks for playing, but sorry. I’m not going to argue that the unions do everything right, but to say that teachers unions don’t care about children is insulting, wrongheaded and ridiculous. Furthermore, if the stuff the charters are doing is so great, they should be able to do it with a unionized workforce.

    The decline of unions in this country is one of the main reasons for the increased income disparity and continued downward pressure on lower class wages. I fail to see how attacking the public sector unions is going to ultimately improve the lives of the same kids reformers say they want to help. Enriching the super wealthy at the expense of the middle class is not a recipe for a healthy society.

  3. “Furthermore, if the stuff the charters are doing is so great, they should be able to do it with a unionized workforce.”


  4. I don’t see how the protection of white collar public employee unions has anything to do with preserving unions among blue collar workers in the private sector or with fixing the income disparity. Undeserved job stability for master’s degree holders is just more of the same for the entitled classes. And it comes at the expense of the low-income students they teach.

  5. I agree with Topher (above) that it is disingenuous to blame all education problems on teachers unions, for the simple fact that unions have little to no influence on the daily routine of most public schools.

    For one, many states (approximately half of the 50 states, to my knowledge) have no teachers unions. For example, Virginia is a right-to-work state and its teachers are not unionized. Therefore, the argument that unions are to blame for students’ problems falls apart for Virginia and all the other right-to-work states in America.

    Secondly, in my experience, schools are run in much the same manner in unionized states as they are in non-unionized states (with regard to class size, salaries, required credentials and many other issues). Before becoming an attorney, I worked as a teacher in California (where teachers are unionized) and Virginia (where there are no teachers unions). I saw little difference between the two states; in fact, my hours, class size and salary were actually all slightly worse in California (unionized) than they were in Virginia (non-unionized).

    Third, unions have no effect on many education areas such as curriculum, teacher credentials, federal laws (such as those on special education – IDEA), NCLB, truancy laws, hiring decisions by principals, class assignments, parental involvement, any many other issues. In light of the above, I have a hard time blaming teachers unions for the success or failure of individual students in our nation’s public schools.

  6. Babby asks “Why?”

    As DC Attorney points out, research tells us that unions have no effect on the quality of education. Highly unionized countries (Finland) have excellent education, while countries that don’t have unions also have good education (South Korea). The same goes for different states in the United States.

    Unions protect the hard-earned benefits of mostly female teachers. Teachers were so poorly treated before they organized that their treatment (being fired if they got married, etc.) is often a subject for humorous posters at various historical sites and museums.

    I believe that teachers are on their way to be fully professional in the same way that college teachers are. When this happens, teachers’ unions will become the professional organizations that they were initially meant to be.

  7. I just read the Flanagan article. Here’s a point of view from a person who spent almost her whole career in low-income public schools:

    At even the very “worst” public schools, at least a third of the children are at grade level or close to it. These children are usually the well-behaved offspring of financially poor parents who still want the best for their children. These parents, like their middle and upper-class peers know that education is the key to their child’s future. Think of Michelle Obama’s childhood and you get the picture.

    The charter movement has discovered that these motivated students, if separated from their less-fortunate peers, can do just as well as mainstream children. And indeed they can. Why not?

    The problem with this is that the remainder of the children are increasingly left behind in the traditional public schools that are legally bound to accept them and keep them. This is the beginning of an educational caste system that many of us believe will have a disasterous effect on our democratic way of life.

    Because almost all teachers belong to unions, the word is almost synonymous with “teachers.” When people speak of “unions” this is code for “teachers.”

    So unions (teachers) are very concerned with education for ALL children. They are the people who deliver the service to the children who are being left our or marginalized. They want better schools for all children, not just those lucky enough to have parents who select a “better” school for them.

    I can’t speak for other teachers, but I support charters as long as they take over an existing school and submit to sharp oversight of the money. What I am against are schools that siphon off the most motivated students and then declare “miracles.” I am also strongly against corporate charters that assign large salaries to the “CEO’s” of schools that have 500 or fewer students. Are citizens crazy or just clueless to allow this?

    Let’s support the people who deliver the service to our nation’s children: teachers.

  8. I feel like Chris all of a sudden…

    Linda you didn’t reply to my question. The statement was:

    “if the stuff the charters are doing is so great, they should be able to do it with a unionized workforce.”

    Why would we assume these programs need unions to be great? Why does the fact that great charter’s don’t have unions cast doubt on their greatness?

  9. Babby:

    I thought I answered your question. Unions don’t affect the quality of instruction at schools; therefore programs do not need unions to be great. Unions have nothing to do with programs. If a school is great it should be great whether it has a unionized workforce or not. There is plenty of research to support this.

    In all my years of teaching, unions had nothing to do with the instruction that I provided for my students. They were there to make certain I was well-treated while employed.

    Unions exist to protect the rights of the workers.

  10. Linda: Well said. I still don’t understand people (usually non-teachers) who think that unions control instruction (or many other variables). As you said, unions exist to protect the rights of the workers — to protect teachers from arbitrary firing or similar adverse action by the administrators — and to ensure that the terms of the contract are followed.

  11. Attorney DC:

    Thank you. You are my number one supporter!

    I’m wondering if some of these obviously well-educated posters really don’t know what a union is, or are just pretending to not know.

  12. Linda: You’re welcome! I agree that many people seem to not understand the role of a union (or at least the role of teachers unions). Teachers unions aren’t comparable to the state bar associations (for lawyers) which set the standards for entry into the profession, are involved with professional development, and take on the role of policing their members for misbehavior (among other duties). In education, these roles are played by various entities including state boards of education, politicians (through laws), school administrators, school boards and others. Teachers unions are, quite simply, unions, that act (both on an individual and political level) to protect the employment rights of their members.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.