A reader writes:
You are totally correct on teachers' unions. I am a teacher at a high performing charter middle school in an extremely low performing district. We randomly take students from surrounding schools by a blind lottery. I cannot stress enough that the success of our school is in large rooted in the fact that there is no teachers' union presence here.
Teachers at my public charter school, including myself, routinely put in 12 hour days. We spend the time perfecting lessons, tutoring students, grading work, and working with families. We do it because we are dedicated to our jobs and want to close the achievement gap (all of our students, by random chance, are African-American and Hispanic-American).
Teachers' unions inhibit the ability of schools to ask teachers to do their jobs. Certainly, many charter schools are terrible, and we need to copy the results of successful ones only (not the new one in NYC that pays teachers over $100,000). Obama's support of charter schools and criticism of the teachers' unions is heartening.
One more thought. If you listen to the teachers' union, the rhetoric almost sounds like it is from SEIU or another union that represents low-income workers. Look, I'd like to paid more as much as the next teacher, but it is ridiculous to act like teachers (all of whom have college degrees, and in many states must have MA degrees) are an oppressed work force. Liberals and conservatives need to understand that whatever your opinion on unions in general, the teachers' unions are clearly disasters.