The idea of a public employee in a sweat shop is laughable. This is nearly as ridiculous as the president of the Michigan Education Association recently saying it’s beginning to look like “the slave days.” If they don't like how they're being treated, they can go get a job in the private sector because things are *so* much better there.
I’m beginning to wonder if Guggenheim is just a naïve Hollywood filmmaker who thought he was doing a community service by pointing out the shortcomings of public education. Perhaps he didn’t realize that he was taking on the power base of the Democratic Party – that the toes he was stepping on are protected by steel toed boots.
“Superman” correctly identified collective bargaining as a serious problem in public education. That’s how schools get saddled with three hundred-page contracts that are chock full of provisions about salary schedules (which reward years of employment instead of effectiveness), lavish health insurance and pension benefits, sick day pay outs, paid time off to conduct union business. . . on and on it goes.
(In Michigan and Wisconsin, the teacher unions even have it written into their collectively-bargained teacher contract that the school district will buy health insurance from a company owned by the teacher union!)
Guggenheim was right to make unions the villains of his film. But now that he’s starting to backpedal about collective bargaining, he’s getting heat from the reform community. There’s a bit of a mutiny on the “Waiting for ‘Superman’” Facebook page. The comments are decidedly opposed to Guggenheim's view, with some supporters going so far as to say they'll no longer promote the film.
Perhaps they'll gravitate towards "Kids Aren't Cars," a film series that pulls no punches and shows the ugly impact collective bargaining has had on American public education.
While the cause of education reform has been around for decades, I believe it wasn't until this liberal's film came on the scene (along with the ugly state budgets) that the issue finally took center stage. Guggenheim's Frankenstein has come to life. He should be proud of that, but he’s starting to waver.
My advice for Guggenheim: re-watch your film and don't go wobbly on us now.
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