Eric Schansberg lives in Indiana and wrote a post for his “personal” blog about different kinds of liberals. There is one quote of Schansberg’s that I challenge.
Schansberg claimed that, “In education, teacher unions want to preserve the monopoly power of the government schools. Restricting competition is a common way to make one group better off at the expense of others,” is misleading.
Teacher unions and public school teachers do not run the school districts in the United States. Teachers are employees and they do as they are told. I should know. I worked in one public school district for thirty years.
Who runs the public schools in America?
Democratically elected school boards do that job. In addition, policy for public schools is decided at the state level, which means the legislature of each state sets the standards and expectations for the school districts in each state.
There are over 14,000 public school districts in the U.S., and discerning parents may choose where to live, which means 14,000 choices and in some school districts, one school may be better than another.
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Parents that do their homework before buying a home or renting may easily find one school or school district that is better than others and that is a form of choice, which is what my wife and I did. All the information one needs to make such a decision may be easily found through Google.
We bought the home we live in now in a public school district that was highly rated. Our daughter attended middle and high school in this Northern California public school district, where she earned straight A’s for six years and then was accepted to UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Davis and Stanford, where she is starting her second year.
When I asked her how many “bad” teachers she had while attending public schools in California K-12, she said only one name came to mind and she must have had at last fifty teachers during those 13 years.
Finland and Singapore, with two of the best school systems in the world, have government run schools.
In fact, in Finland, the best school system in Europe, 97% of students attend public government run schools and the teachers belong to strong teacher unions but teachers decide how to run their schools and parents offer strong support, which is often missing in the US.
Then Schansberg claims teacher unions restrict competition. Wrong again.
There are 33,366 private schools in the United States, serving 5.5 million PK-12 students. Private schools account for over 25 percent of the nation’s schools and enroll about 10 percent of all students, which is a higher ratio than Finland or Singapore where only 3% of the students attend private schools.
Then there are homeschooled students, which add up to about 1.5 to 1.7 million students.
Parents, if they make an effort, have many choices where their children go to school. The real reason for the school choice movement in America has nothing to do with better schools. This movement is politically/religiously motivated. There is no other reason.
If these conservatives really wanted better schools, they would be studying the countries that already have them instead of reinventing a wheel that would turn out square.
Saying the public schools in the United States are a monopoly would be the same as claiming the U.S. Post Office is a monopoly without mentioning FedEx, DHL, UPS and e-mail.
There may be two large teacher unions (NEA and AFT) but these unions are broken into 14,000 different branches and each branch negotiates separately with the democratically elected school boards of each of those 14,000 school districts for wages and benefits and the teacher unions do not dictate policy or curriculum—the democratically elected officials at the school district, state and federal level do that after much debate and lobbying.
In the thirty years I taught, the union branch I paid my dues to, which was a member of CTA/NEA, never told us how or what to teach and never offered workshops in those areas.
Do you really want your children to attend schools run by the CEO of an International corporation such as Wal-Mart, which only answers to its investors?
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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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