Antidote to Government's Education Monopoly

Kyle Olson

1/22/2011 12:01:00 AM - Kyle Olson

Americans are beginning to understand that the government-run assembly-line education system is not working. As I point out in the upcoming "Kids Aren't Cars" film series, thousands, of not millions of kids are being failed by a system that is geared more towards satisfying adults than educating children.

See the trailer here.

How else can a recent Detroit Public Schools graduate be unable to read her own diploma? How else can tenure - the job security law for unfit teachers - be explained? How else can budget busting pension systems be explained?

When collective bargaining was brought into American schools in the 1960s, it was a revenue stream and power base for Big Labor. Suddenly, union bosses became more interested in building political muscle than educating children.

At that point the battle between unions and school boards became more focusing on salary, benefits, pensions and working conditions for adults, and less about students.

Kids are only pawns in the self-serving union game.

As we point out in "Kids Aren't Cars," this has poisoned the education environment. We witness ugly fights in communities during union contract negotiations. Unions lead recall campaigns against school board members who don’t vote the union way. Teachers throw up their hands because the union will take their money by hook or by crook, while showing no interest in their input.

It’s sad to have rural school unions adopt the mantra of blue-collar unions that rely more on muscle than brains. Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis told a story to a radical labor group where she said she is not a "teacher" but an "education worker." It's unfortunate teachers' leaders don't see themselves as professional and conduct themselves accordingly.

There is some hope. The growing school choice movement provides parents a way out of Lewis' schools and into schools that do whatever it takes to make sure kids are prepared for life beyond graduation. It's too bad the same can't be said of Lewis' Chicago Public Schools. And it's too bad they fight like mad to block parents from having options.

National School Choice Week, coming up January 23-29, showcases the success stories and the organizations fighting to empower parents with choices. Unions are terrified of school choice because they know they'll lose their monopoly and they'll be uncompetitive.

As "Kids Aren't Cars" shows, unions have created much of the problem. Will politicians rely on them to be part of the solution?