Thursday, March 13, 2008

Are unions to blame?

The education debate continues to rage across the country and among various partisan groups. A Washington-based anti-union group is attempting to roil the waters, conducting a contest to choose the "worst unionized teacher in America."

The benign-sounding The Center for Union Facts is asking parents, students and other teachers Tuesday to nominate their choices for worst teacher. The center says it will choose 10 and offer each $10,000 to quit; "winners" must allow the center to write about them on its website.

The brainchild behind the contest is Rick Berman, who according to USA Today's Greg Teppo, is "a union-bashing attorney known for his in-your-face attacks on consumer, safety and environmental groups."

Berman states that he's "not trying to humiliate anyone." His intention is merely to "to jump-start a conversation that maybe people need severance packages to find themselves another line of work."

Unfortunately, I don't think Berman's group will stimulate the kind of dialogue we need to address some very real issues in American education. Creating a strawman and then, easily knocking it over won't move us in the direction we need to go.

Groups like The Conference Board, The Workforce Alliance, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a host of others are championing education reform and improvement, without fanning the flames of ideology and engaging in union-baiting.

You can see what happens when you upset the "hornet's nest," by scrolling down to the comments following the article, especially those coming from educators.

On the other hand, passion for your job, no matter what you do is important, no more so than when it comes to educating our future workforce. Accountability is important and building this in and maintaining educational integrity hasn't always been the result of our current reform.

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