The issue is systematic of the market distorting effects that unions – or any consolidated power – have in industry. They often are founded with the notion of protecting a specific marginalized group, but quickly devolve into powerful and obstinate special interests that rarely help those they purportedly represent and always disrupt the industry in which they operate. Unions played a significant role in destroying the Detroit auto industry and have continued to drag America’s education system through the mud.
The problem is that the teachers’ unions not only prevent the best teachers from being favorably compensated and encouraged to excel, but also protect those “teachers” who are utterly useless. The infamous “rubber rooms,” which have been eliminated in New York City largely in name only, are a prime example of the harmful effects of these unions. Likewise, unions are often opposed to such logical and widely accepted business models such as merit-based pay. As The Economist points out, the DC teachers’ union turned down an offer from Rhee to double teachers’ salaries if tenure was removed and merit-based pay instituted. How such a refusal by the union helps the teachers – particularly the good ones – is questionable, but the harm done to students is palpable. A mock discussion, articulated by Christie, between a child and a parent sums up the foolishness of the unions,
To believe that, this is what you have to believe: Let's say your son comes home and he says, "Mom, Dad, I can't study. I can't study, I can't work, my grades are suffering, because you know, Mrs. Smith, she's not getting her pay raises. And it gets worse," he said, feigning whines. "She actually has to pay 1.5 percent of her salary for health benefits. I cannot focus. I cannot focus with that knowledge. Mom, Dad, stop the madness. Give this woman her raise and her free health benefits and I'll get all A's."Ultimately, it is the schools and the students – and hence America – that suffer. The backward, selfish, and short-sighted policies of the unions sap resources that could otherwise help students. Instead, these resources aid the institutional structure of the union and the worst-of-the-worst teachers. If America wants to continue its growth and not see our children and economy continue to fall behind those of China and India, it is time to break the stranglehold that these partisan interests have on our schools.