No Tenure for Teachers

“The [New York State teachers’] unions late Tuesday were successful in banning student performance in the classroom from the tenure process.”

Say what?! News stories like this drive me nuts. There should be no such thing as tenure for teaching faculty who are not also professional researchers. The latter need tenure to protect them from malicious firing related to unpopular research topics, methodology, or results. Educators who exclusively teach should be held accountable for how well they do their jobs, just like anyone else in any other job. If you are a poor teacher who fails to adequately educate children, your boss should have the right to fire you. Period.

On a tangentially related note, I hate the idea of closed shops. Unions should have to compete with other unions and individual workers. A monopolized workforce is as bad as a monopolized industry.

Comments 8

  1. howard wrote:

    Eric,

    Coming from a union job where tenure doesn’t exist, I kind of see where you’re going with that, but I’m wondering how much direct experience you have with unions after reading that last paragraph.

    A closed shop doesn’t preclude other unions (or no union at all) from doing away with the current union in any particular shop. With the current state of domestic labor relations, it might actually be easier on balance to decertify a union than it is to certify one. It’s as democratic a process as our electoral system. Actually, moreso.

    Posted 10 Apr 2008 at 6:42 am
  2. Funky Dung wrote:

    When was the last time you actually heard of one union displacing another? Besides, deposing one union to empower another isn’t the point. It shouldn’t be an all or nothing situation. Employers should be free to hire any mixture of union or independent workers.

    Posted 10 Apr 2008 at 8:26 am
  3. gbm3 wrote:

    I’ve worked at union and non-union shops. I’ve been on both sides (engineer and in a union).

    The unions I’ve worked with/for have been good. It seems the larger shops/institutions had the more powerful union because management was more powerful (my management wasn’t that powerful). And no, there was no democratic choice of unions, just elections every couple of years.

    As far as tenure for teachers, I agree with you FD. No tenure for HS teachers! (I was one.) They need to make the grade too.

    gbm3

    http://wonderingzygoteemeritus.blogspot.com/

    Posted 10 Apr 2008 at 8:59 pm
  4. howard wrote:

    gbm3,
    there is a democratic choice as to who, if anyone, represents workers. Should a majority of the workers wish to change representation (or do away with it altogether) decertification is an option.

    Eric,
    you shouldn’t confuse the frequency of decertifications with the ease of carrying them out. The simple fact is that most union workers, whatever qualms they may have, prefer their union representation to the alternative.

    As far as your philosophical problems with the structure of a union shop, the laws governing that are also subject to the democratic process. If a significant segment of the population shares your misgivings, I’m sure something can be done about it.

    Posted 10 Apr 2008 at 10:29 pm
  5. Funky Dung wrote:

    “you shouldn’t confuse the frequency of decertifications with the ease of carrying them out. The simple fact is that most union workers, whatever qualms they may have, prefer their union representation to the alternative.”

    Touche’.

    “As far as your philosophical problems with the structure of a union shop, the laws governing that are also subject to the democratic process. If a significant segment of the population shares your misgivings, I’m sure something can be done about it.”

    I’d like to think so, but unions are powerful lobbying forces to be reckoned with.

    Posted 11 Apr 2008 at 9:58 am
  6. howard wrote:

    “I’d like to think so, but unions are powerful lobbying forces to be reckoned with.”

    Yes and no. They do have political action committees to which members can contribute (on a strictly voluntary basis), but the funding for those committees is far outweighed by corporate PAC money. A union’s political power is largely in the number of members and other people who sympathize with its position and voice their sympathies. In other words, organized labor’s power is pretty much limited to the number of figurative boots it can put on the ground.

    There are wide-ranging and lavish efforts by those who oppose unionization. Folks like Rick Berman and mark Penn have made signigicant fortunes lobbying for such efforts. So while the union movement does have some lobbying power, it may not be the political behemoth it once was (or that some believe it still is).

    Posted 11 Apr 2008 at 4:39 pm
  7. Funky Dung wrote:

    “A union’s political power is largely in the number of members and other people who sympathize with its position and voice their sympathies.”

    Most of the Democratic Party supports or at least pays lip service to unions. I can’t recall ever hearing of a major union endorsing a Republican or other non-Democrat. Perhaps it happens once in blue moon, but it’s either the exception to the rule or Democrats have done a good propagandizing the notion that unions monolithically vote for Democrats.

    Posted 11 Apr 2008 at 4:45 pm
  8. howard wrote:

    Out here in the eastern part of PA, our Joint Council and my local union have endorsed many Republicans at the state and local levels the past ten years. Of course, it would be difficult to find an example of that on the national level, probably because the national Republican Party is loathe to nominate anyone to a higher office if they support union positions in any demonstrable way. Hence, the unions aren’t going to endorse such candidates. That said, I would still say it’s a boots on the ground issue more than a sheer money/lobbying issue.

    But to dig a little deeper into what you wrote, “lip service” is an apt term for what happens much of the time. For some voters, lip service does the trick, because they aren’t paying attention to the actions. Bill Clinton was a perfect example. Unions and those who side with them gave tremendous support to Clinton in 92, after which Clinton lobbied hard for NAFTA. Without getting into the pros and cons of NAFTA, it clearly was not a union-endorsed policy.

    The later 90s and early 00s resulted in a lot of unions (mine included) widening their focus as to whom they might endorse.

    Posted 11 Apr 2008 at 5:20 pm

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