Several hundred people showed up at my door Wednesday to teach me a lesson by offering me a job. They were unionized public-school teachers, and they wanted me to go into a school and teach for a week. "Teach, John, teach!" they chanted.
I wasn't expecting that.
I did expect them to demand an apology for my TV special on education, "Stupid in America," which was critical of union work rules.
I didn't expect one of the speakers to be so blunt as to complain that school choice, whose value I had shown in the broadcast, would "take money away from . . . our union leaders" and a special program they had built to pay college tuition for a special-interest group within their union.
And I was especially surprised by one history lesson they taught me: "Public schools are what distinguish democracies from every other system in the world," and a country without strong public schools "lends itself to authoritarian thinking."
Fascinating. I guess the Communists all went to private school. And I guess having a unionized government monopoly running most of our schools, and forcing students to attend those schools regardless of whether they or their parents approve of what's taught there, will make sure that the government can never indoctrinate our children -- and neither can labor unions.
One speaker took issue with my statement that schools already get plenty of money because she had to get thousands of signatures to get science equipment for her child's school. But the money is going into the school system, more than $10,000 of it per student per year nationally; the problem isn't funding, it's that the public bureaucracy had to see thousands of signatures before it would buy equipment. If we gave the $10,000 to whichever school each student chose to attend, thousands of signatures wouldn't have been necessary -- just a willingness to transfer to a school with science equipment.