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‘Left, Right & Center’: Mideast and the Midwest

Posted on Feb 25, 2011
Left, Right & Center

More strife in Libya, the Wisconsin Assembly passes a bill barring collective bargaining rights, the death of DOMA and a budget standoff in Washington. Buckle in for “Left, Right & Center.”



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By call me roy, February 27, 2011 at 9:40 pm Link to this comment

How Teachers’ Unions Handcuff Schools
Sol Stern
When Tracey Bailey received the National Teacher of the Year Award from President Clinton in a festive Rose Garden ceremony in 1993, American Federation of Teachers chief Albert Shanker called to say how pleased he was that a union member had won this prestigious honor. But Bailey, a high school science teacher from Florida, is an AFT member no more. Today he believes that the big teachers’ unions are a key reason for the failure of American public education, part of the problem rather than the solution. The unions, he thinks, are just “special interests protecting the status quo,” pillars of “a system that too often rewards mediocrity and incompetence.” Such a system, he says, “can’t succeed.”
Bailey is right. In the final analysis, no school reform can accomplish much if it does not focus on the quality of the basic unit of education—that human interaction between an adult and a group of children that we call teaching. The big teachers’ unions, through the straitjacket of work rules that their contracts impose, inexorably subvert that fundamental encounter. These contracts structure the individual teacher’s job in ways that offer him or her no incentives for excellence in the classroom—indeed, that perversely reward failure.
So as Tracey Bailey and many other dedicated teachers have learned, schools can’t improve until reformers confront the deadly consequences of the power that teachers’ unions wield over a monopolistic industry, not only through contracts but also through the unions’ influence on the elected officials who regulate the education industry. Until then, any reform—whether more money for the schools or smaller classes or high national standards or charter schools—will get short-circuited from the very outset.
Trade unionism is a recent development in public education. During the first 100 years of taxpayer-funded public schools, teachers had no collective bargaining rights, though many enjoyed civil-service protection. While the public schools made steady progress during those years, it’s indisputable that teachers were underpaid and often were moved around like interchangeable parts in a one-size-fits-all system. Many teachers, along with principals and other administrators, belonged to a staid professional organization called the National Education Association, to which the words “unionism” and “strike” were anathema.Inevitably, teachers working in a factory-style system figured they might as well organize themselves into factory-style unions. The big breakthrough came in New York City in 1961, when the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), led by a charismatic high school math teacher named Albert Shanker—whose recent death deprived the teachers’ unions of one of the towering figures in the American labor movement—went on strike and won the right to bargain for all city teachers. Though Shanker insisted that the struggle was about more than mere bread-and-butter issues—that it was also about improving the quality of public education and strengthening democracy—the contract the UFT signed with the New York City Board of Education nevertheless reflected the traditional industrial model. It set up uniform pay scales and seniority rights for teachers, limited their classroom hours, and required new teachers to be automatically enrolled in the union and have their dues deducted from their paychecks.

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By call me roy, February 27, 2011 at 8:14 pm Link to this comment

I guess you’ve been watching the vehement protests and, in some cases, the outright street battles taking place between the bankrupt government and the ‘entitled’ union classes who want their money and benefits no matter what it costs or who it hurts. No, I’m not talking about Wisconsin. I’m talking about Greece. Actually, this is the second act in the Grecian drama. The first violent upheaval subsided after the Greek government begged a $150 billion bailout from the world. But now that that money’s gone and the European Union is demanding that Greece clean up its act and take solid austerity steps to avoid total financial collapse, the unions and the entitled masses have hit the streets again. I just keep watching this and wondering, “Where do they think the money is going to come from? When are they going to realize they have to shoulder some of the responsibility for their own financial futures like the rest of us.”

Hey, wait, maybe I am talking about Wisconsin! At least some of the public sector unions in Wisconsin.

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By daniel sway, February 27, 2011 at 10:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

why do you not address the issue of the Wisconsin Governor selling state owned
assets with no-bid contracts?

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Sabagio's avatar

By Sabagio, February 26, 2011 at 6:52 pm Link to this comment

I’m a former union member ,  steel and construction.  I paid my dues so I know what’s going on here is scary.  Denial of hard earned collective bargaining righst by political flunkies who’ve been sucking on the corporate Political Action Committee tit their whole careers while pretending to be “ public servants”  in wrong regardless of how one feels about unions and organized labor.

But there is a Whirlwind out there, and the winds they are arising.  The State House windbags and demagogues of today will be reaping The Whirlwinds of tomorrow.

These are the Greed Is Philosophers who believe it now a good time to take the desperate and financially hard up.  They may have second thoughts when the the Interstate Economic Boycotts begin and The Brothers and Sisters are joined by the multi millionaire$$ union members in Hollywood, New York actors and writers and the Major Leagues: baseball, football, basketball…and all the other money making walkers and talketrs and runners and writers, and others who live by playing with balls, and ice skates and runners and throwers.  It’s pay back time for these folks who profit from the sacrifices made by those who went before them in the steel mills , the coal mines , trucks and docks and tenant farms, and bean and cabbage fields, the poor and abused workers who were tired of being tired and hungry and being slaves who had to rent out their labor for what they could get to feed and house their families.  Americans have to ask themselves: Do we want our people taught by teachers making a living that is just above the poverty level?  Do we want to be cared for by nurses and hospital workers who have to supplement their take home pay by stealing from the most vulnerable of their patients? Desperate peoples do desperate things, take desperate actions when they collectively and spontaneously reach that point that they have nothing to lose by marching and demonstrating their and anger and rage in public because The Big Lie, that they never had it so good,  no longer works.  Tyrants and despots in North Africa and the Middle East are experiencing the product of that collective rage and frustration right now.  The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe got their comeuppance a score of years ago with the start of the velvet revolution, when their peoples began abandoning their jobs and homes and tinker toy cars and walked in The West for toward and uncertain future singing We Shall Overcome, because it can’t get any worse than if we stayed here in the Worker’s Paradise.  The political leadership in this country are in denial if they think that it can’t happen here. When it happens are you going to call out the National Guard and shoot unarmed citizens in the streets and on college campuses like Kent State.  It’s happened in this country before.  It can again, believe it. 

Sabagio Mauraeno,

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By Simon Girty, February 26, 2011 at 10:00 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Are any of these people actually from Libya, Egypt or Iraq? Do any serve as bargaining agents for public service union workers who’ve lost their pensions to Wall Street’s open kleptocracy, still unregulated and encouraged by both both ‘political parties?’  Why would we want to listen to K Street or Madison Ave’s torpid version of how these wealthy look down at the squirming masses as armored AMGs haul them about, staring dead-eyed through inch thick kevlar, as we dumpster dive and shoot each other…

and just what IS arianna this week anyway?

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By SteveL, February 26, 2011 at 1:39 am Link to this comment

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was mentioned as the great Republican hope
for fighting against civil service pensions.  Hope someone asks him if he plans to
collect the pension he will get after he leaves office and just how much is it?

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By Alan, February 25, 2011 at 9:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

-Arianna, are you in charge of programming TCm now too?
-Arianna, tonight, Friday, 25 Feb 11, TCM is
showing “On the Waterfront”.  Wasn’t that Kazan’s
union busting obeissance to Mccarthyism?
Interesting that it’s been placed right in
the middle of the Wisconsin union busting campaign
of the Republicans.
-Whaaa?t??  We are AOL, and I haven’t beeeeen a Republican for
quite some time.
—-Well that’s all the time we have for
Right, Center Right, and More to the Right

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