Sunday, April 25, 2010

Where unions go wrong

I first mentioned here about last hired first fired, and it was brought to my attention again when thinkonaut brought my attention to a New York Times article in the comments section of this blog (thank you). This issue hits at the core weakness of MCEA and other like minded unions, for it demonstrates oh so clearly that teacher unions do not attempt to do what is best for education as a whole. Can you imagine a sucessful business, forced to make cuts, arbitrarily firing the last employees it hired regardless of quality? If you have to fire teachers, you should go out of your way to fire the worst ones.

Unions like to argue that if administrators had the power to fire more senior teachers they would do so at a whim, or to pursue personal vendettas. Let's just go out on a limb and say this is 100% true. Welcome to real life. It pays to get along with your boss. And it's certainly not arbitrary.

On the other hand, let's say that principals' pay were based on the performance of the school. He or she would then have a vested interest in getting rid of the least effective teachers. Incentives matter. It's how the real world works, and it's how education should work.

Finally, it is well within the power of unions to come up with a less arbitrary system, that would not hurt its students or the profession of teaching. Yet unions simply argue that last hired first fired is the only fair way. I say, if you are so concerned that adminstrators are unable to do what's best for schools in their current circumstance, come up with a new way to get rid of the worst teachers. I'm quite certain there is a better way, and that it is within the power of the union to do so. Anything else is protecting unions, not education.

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