Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Myth of the Powerful Teachers' Union

In Wisconsin the teachers union takes a lot of flak for...

For what again? The Milwaukee Public School system debacle?

Hmm. Read on.

David Macaray on The Myth of the Powerful Teachers' Union


Kevin Scheunemann said...


This is perhaps the craziest thing you have ever posted!

This is a political button push for me!

A school system with a high school graduation rate of less than 50% of the enrolled students, for years, is a complete and utter failure.

The teachers union has been a constant barrier to the one solid reform to improve MPS: School Choice and School Vouchers!

The Wisconsin Teacher's Union opposition to vouchers baffles me. If unionized teachers are as good as they say they are, what are they afraid of in the field of competition for students?

Its clear: based on the high school graduation rate of MPS, competition would render Milwaukee Public Schools, a failure.

As Prof. Sowell stated, its racist to support an education system that hurts African American kids. Less than a 50% HS graduation rate is disgusting and that system needs to be scrapped and re-done with 100% vouchers.

The teachers union supports status quo.

Mpeterson said...

Weird Kevin, we actually agree almost completely on this.

I think it *is* racist to continue subsidizing a largely ghettoized school system that fails to education 50% of it's students. But it isn't the union that wants the status quo. Our society wants things this way.

Had you read the article more carefully you'd notice that it isn't the union that's at fault but the spectacular failure of family stability -- since lousy graduation rates happen anywhere that families are falling apart.

The really interesting question is what is it that turned MPS from one of the better school systems up through the 1970s, in to the miasma it is now.

I'd argue loss of jobs in the city, the flight away from the tax base of those *with* jobs (a flight subsidized by tax dollars in the form of highways), and the indifference of the state's majority population who were able to move out to Waukesha or Washington Counties and forget about the problems of "those people."

I'm guessing, of course.

Want to go all Washington DC on them? I'd be game.

Free Lunch said...

Two minor objections, Kevin,

1. As Mark noted the reform problem is much more complex than your simplistic blame of teachers.

2. School choice exists. Vouchers have serious problems that have been extensively studied and reported upon. It is clear that vouchers are not a solution.

I realize that it is much easier to just repeat the unfounded claims of the right, than to get informed and understand that simplistic answers for complex problems never work. It is easier not to acknowledge that you are being steered by people who will benefit from the change, even if the students will not.

Stop being a sucker. Stop buying the falsehoods, foolish nostrums, and poor-bashing hatred of the right. Stop allying yourself with bigots, thieves, polluters, and fools. Stop making excuses for those who reject science for their own personal delusional selfishness. It is bad for society, bad for our country, bad for the future and won't benefit you one bit.

Kevin Scheunemann said...


Now you have really broadened the argument.

You just left yourself, more or less, arguing for some sort of family values. (Naturally, how one gets to that goal, is probably where we conflict.)

School choice would immediately help those families that do care, by allowing those families, if desired, to opt for schools with a more "helpful" environment. This is why parents are "waiting in line" for vouchers in Milwaukee, due to the governor's teachers union homage limit on vouchers.

When families have an educational choice, that's always a good thing.

How to fix the despotic and multi-generational welfare state that has provided a perverse incentive to destroy families, now that can be a 3 hour debate just in the introduction...

John Jost said...

The News Hardly Covered - An Excerpt:

The F*** Up:

KABUL, Afghanistan - ... NATO airstrike killed at least 27 civilians in central Afghanistan, the third time a mistaken coalition strike has killed noncombatants ... Gen. Stanley McChrystal apologized to the Afghan president ... the victims included 4 women and a child ... NATO confirmed that its planes fired on what it believed was a group of insurgents ... the airstrike hit three minibuses ... 42 people in the vehicles, all civilians ...

The Hypocrites:

"We are extremely saddened by the tragic loss of innocent lives," Gen. McChrystal said in a statement. "I have made it clear to our forces that we are here to protect the Afghan people and inadvertently killing or injuring civilians undermines their trust and confidence in our mission. We will redouble our effort to regain that trust."

Adm. Mike Mullen ... told reporters ... that the nation "must be patient."

Assorted F*** Ups:

Two NATO rockets killed 12 people in one home ... an airstrike ... missed targeted insurgents and killed seven policemen.

Bush's war, Obama's war - All Quiet On The War Front.

Anonymous said...


Instead of blaming a union using clearly biased data, why not look at the students? What student isn't hopelessly attached to their Iphone, IPod, Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter pages? I apologize to those who use these things, but we must admit that a student's daily usage of these things is beyond excessive; it is mind-numbing. When a student is more concerned about the latest Facebook or Myspace updates than his/her term paper, the teacher should not be held accountable for the student's lack of quality work. Can we blame the parents? To an extent, as it is their responsibility to make sure the student sets aside ample time to complete homework. They have control, albeit limited, over how much time they waste on social networking sites.

Let's face it: Homework was never a student's favorite activity. However, their was still a sense of pride in doing a bang-up job on assignments, perhaps, even, the kindling of a passion for a certain subject. That pride of excellence is slowly being replaced with pride in one's profile.

Junk food is moderation. Lately, though, I see too many intellectually obese students wandering the hallways, and I cannot see how teachers, union or not, are to blame for this.

Anonymous said...

Please allow me to make one more comment regarding social networking sites.

The more popular social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace get, the more I hear discussions regarding Farmville and Mafia Wars going on DURING CLASS by students AND PROFESSORS. My suggestion to teachers and professors is to KNOCK IT OFF. My suggestion to students, particularly college students, is to ask yourself why you're paying significant amounts of money to go to school.

Anonymous said...

50% of new teachers quit in the first five years.

School choice exists?
Should taxpayer dollars fund religious schools?

Are all these charter school receiving the same scrutiny as public schools?

It is wrong to portray all Milw. schools as bad. The issues comes with the neighborhood. Good schools = good neighborhoods. Low performing schools = poor neighborhood.

That's why the argument that it's senseless to 'throw money" at schools is a great retort from people in stable neighborhood with good schools. They do not want the public schools to be truly public.

Kevin Scheunemann said...


So did your read front page of Journal Sentinel today?

Makes this blog post seem a litttle crazy/awkward now doesn't it?

Where can I get a luxurious/super wealthy government pension?

Are you going to rail against the government unions who are creating wealth inequality, vs. private workers, with these lavish government pensions?

Looks like government workers are the "rich" ones.

You seem to be awefully quiet about this injustice.

Anonymous said...

Kevin will be shortly providing research to prove School Choice and School Vouchers are the one solid reform to improve MPS.

With 100% high school graduation, the city shall rise from the ashes!

As I am holding my breath, Mark, I leave you my motorcycle and my helmet.


Mpeterson said...

Lavish? A reasonable facsimile of our original salaries after 30 years of working for less than you did?

Besides, if you read it closely you'd have seen that, using the WPRI's numbers, over just the last 10 years of a worker's career, the private sector employee will have earned $220,000 more than the public sector employee. Properly invested that would earn them significantly more, on top of their slightly smaller pensions, than the public sector employee.

Kevin, you keep proving my point that you continually overlook the net result to concentrate merely on the gross.

With an understanding of economics like this, how is it you haven't driven yourself into terrible personal debt?

Anonymous said...

"...Properly invested that would earn them significantly more, on top of their slightly smaller pensions, than the public sector employee."

This is one reason why I use IRA's, a WI public employee pension, my house, and my secret option to prepare for retirement.

I figure that way I have the opportunity to have my public pension raided by another Tommy Thompson wanna-be and my private IRA domino destroyed by Wall Street malpractice. Then I still have the house to sell at a loss and my stash to get lost.

Nuclear families are at 25% now.
Divorce rate is a steady 50%.
However, "extended" families are meeting in the middle.

How will Kevin blame this on liberals?

Oh, Yes, in a conservative system, we'd be stuck for life to the first person we slept with. Reminds me of the old country.

Kevin Scheunemann said...


What's your basis for the last question?

Mpeterson said...

About you driving yourself into debt?

Well, honestly, everything you've ever posted about economics leads me to imagine it.

If you run your personal life on the same principles you advocate for the nation I'd have every reason to imagine that you've destroyed your own finances in exactly the same way these principles have destroyed the nation's finances.

Of course, I can't tell when you're kidding anymore, so if you have been kidding, I apologize.

Kevin Scheunemann said...


So you would have a problem if I adopted the "Obama government finance" model?

I thought it was acceptable to act like the Federal government?


Mpeterson said...

Well, we haven't seen an Obama model yet. Only the Bush one and it's leftovers -- so, you're in debt? :^)

Kevin Scheunemann said...

We are all in debt, every family owes $100,000+ for their share of the $9 trillion national debt.

What do you call the current insane 1.4 trillion current budget deficit? Obama has nothing to do with it?

I'm not defending the crazy Bush spending either, but that crazyness even looks frugal and responsible next to Obama.

Lets say Bush was the Tommy Thompson of spending. Problem is, next to Jim Doyle, any drunken sailor looks financially responsible.