Steven Brill's new article on the teacher's union in New York City is absolutely savage. With good reason. About 5% of the teachers in the system seem to be hanging out on the payroll, doing nothing, either because they were made redundant at their old school and no other principal wants them, or because they are spending several years awaiting a hearing on charges of incompetence and misconduct.
People who blame the teacher's union for every single thing that is wrong in urban schools are way off the mark. But the fact remains that this shouldn't happen. The union shouldn't protect teachers who pass out drunk in their classroom. Hearings should not take a year to go through. People should not collect paychecks for doing nothing, simply because they're too awful to keep teaching. This is madness. If Barack Obama is serious about changing this ridiculous reality, he will do wonders for his party, and maybe even for education.