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EDUCATION: Where’s reform from the WEA?

Letter by Brad Slusher, Tacoma on March 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm with 16 Comments »
March 12, 2012 2:03 pm

Re: “Here’s an idea for rich school reformers: Listen to teachers” (Your Voice, 3-11).

Patricia Drake is certainly correct in her summary statement that “We can do better.”

Siding with Washington Education Association (WEA) President Mary Lindquist against millionaire Nick Hanauer, Drake seeks to dismiss his reform agenda as inferior to her 44 years as an educator.

She bemoans the fact that she has no voice when compared to the millionaire, yet if education reform were going to come from the WEA, its more than 53,000 teachers and millions of dollars it has to spend from teacher’s union dues on influencing public policy, shouldn’t it have happened by now? They’ve certainly had enough time!

She then asserts that we need to become like the Euro-socialist Finland, a country the size of Montana with about 1.6 percent of the population of the U.S. I suspect something will be lost in translation when attempting to transform our system into theirs.

She points out the school principals as the next most influential factor and their need to build a more “positive” environment, followed by “administrative support,” “workplace conditions” and the cost of “standardized tests” – the usual laundry list of union complaints. There’s really nothing new here.

Hanauer’s reform agenda, while far from innovative, is certainly better than anything coming out of Olympia. I would like to suggest that the WEA, state legislators, teachers and civic leaders look up the word “innovate.” To quote a famous movie line, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Leave a comment Comments → 16
  1. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    The WEA doesn’t care about anything but power. Until we allow teachers to opt out of forced dues payment we are stuck with them.

    Like the federal government learned in 1978, when they outlawed collective bargaining for wages and benefits, they could not rein in the power of the unions until they wiened them off taxpayer dollars. Once the feds stopped collecting dues almost 90% of the workforce stopped paying the dues. Let’s try that in WA State. If the union is so good the teachers will still pay. Why do they now collect dues at gun point?

    Dues payments for teachers are paid by your tax dollars. Those tax dollars are paid in the form of dues to the unions and they donate them back to keep democrats in office. They hire their own bosses and make fat contracts with them. Can’t the public see the corruption here????

  2. sandblower says:

    Good ole union bashers. We love their foresight. And their total disconnect from reality.

  3. Fibonacci says:

    Good old Taxed is obsessed with unions—I think he got kicked out of one. Yes, if we could just get rid of the evil unions we would live in Utoopoia. The conservatives would take care of the little working guy because their hearts are pure.

    I want to know what qualifies this Hanauer guy to make recommendations on education? How much experience does he have? Oh yea, he is rich and he WENT to school, therefore he is an expert!!!

  4. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    The koolaid drinkers, sand and Fib, have chimed in with their liberal bashing of the truth. I’m used to it.

    Tell me, have unions made the schools better? Has the drop out rate gone anything but up? Have you read an 8th graders papers lately? Have you been to a school board meeting and seen the unions just chew on the school board with threats? Have you asked the teachers if they would like to opt out of forced dues to off set the pay cuts their unions have made in their behalf? Why are the unions afraid of competion in schools?

  5. bobcat1a says:

    “There’s really nothing new here.” Well Brad, that was a delightful copout; nice way to evade responsibility to rebut.

  6. LornaDoone says:

    Taxed has disclosed in the past that his spouse is enjoying the benefits of union negotiations.

    “Why are the unions afraid of competion in schools?”

    How do you hold a competition for teachers? Have them all teach the same student and then rate how they did? Of course, if that student enjoyed math and hated geography, I’d not want to be the one teaching geography in the contest.

    “Have you asked the teachers if they would like to opt out of forced dues to off set the pay cuts their unions have made in their behalf?”

    Great idea! All of those non-union teachers should get paid on a parallel to their non-union equals. Just ask any teacher at a private school how much they enjoy taking less money and less benefits than their counterparts at public schools.

  7. Pacman33 says:

    LardoNoone nihil ad rem –
    “Taxed has disclosed in the past that his spouse is enjoying the benefits of union negotiations.”

    What is your point? What did you establish with that statement?
    All I get from it, is that you are dumbfounded by the fact there are human beings that exist with common decency, the conviction in a set of principles that have allowed them to fend off the brainwashing that comes standard with the union membership.


    The fruits of this feat is being able to witness how goonions delude themselves into believing ‘There would be no middle class, if not for their unionism’ or the classic ‘Everyone would make minimum wage, if not for their unionism’. The opportunity to experience the ‘psychological twister’ necessary to fool themselves into believing an infinite list of nonsense so that they can maintain the illusion of being honorable.

    Because unions persist in believing that they are “better people”, they have little choice but to descend into a immature, anti-reason and anti-reality behavior. These commonly observed behaviors are typical coping mechanisms for their shame. It is the process that allows publik unionists to claim to be ‘champions of the middle class’ and still maintain the denial of being lazy, greedy thugs who wreak havoc on budgets of the same state and local governments they poison the electoral process of.

  8. commoncents says:

    Typically when one enjoys the benefits of the activities of others they either actively support them or the are quiet about it. One who vociferously decries the actions and motives of the others should refrain from giving to and taking ANYTHING from them. His spouse certainly could have avoided the unions and taught in private schools (which is entirely possible – I really don’t know). Complaining after the fact or all the while only makes them a hypocrite.

  9. I come from a union family. Unions did wonderful things in our past. Now, people earn fair wages, work in safe conditions, are free from harassment and unfair practices. If these things occur, there are legal ramifications. Even the whistle blowers act is a law that protects workers.

    So, maybe we have outgrown unions. Maybe like training wheels, we don’t need them anymore. It seems to me that unions aren’t fixing anything really. They drive up costs for what? They protect bad workers and bully new ones. One might even say that unions seem to exist for their own self perpetuation.

    Unions had a place in our history and there was a time when they were needed. That time has passed. Now, all they do is help themselves.

  10. slugoxyz,
    My parents were union people as well; but when I saw unions focus not on accountability and work ethic issues that warranted decent wages, as they did a generation ago, I think unions now focus more on issues that don’t warrant pay for performance and regular job issues.

    As an educator, my focus is using the techniques that work well with my class. The union on the other hand focuses on non-student issues that don’t require students and teachers to actually perform.

  11. Fibonacci says:

    Unions focus on WORKING CONDITIONS not classroom instruction.

    Give me ONE example of how ANTHING would be different for a STUDENT if teachers did not belong to a union? I have taught both in public schools WITH a union and private schools WITHOUT unions and NOTHING is any different for students. Go peddle your anti-union hate somewhere else, or talk about something you actually know something about!!!

  12. slugoxyz says:

    Fibonacci: The guy getting all excited here seems to be you. Unions focus on working conditions? Really? Especially in teaching but not exclusively, unions protect that burned out teacher who hasn’t actually taught anything in years. Why? Because he/she has seniority.

    So, this is what might be different for students if there were no unions. Out with the bad teachers and in with the good ones. Then again, if a senior teacher could be fired for lack of initiative, lack of motivation, lack of ingenuity or just plain rottenness, maybe they’d stay fired up. That would definitely help our students. What if a school paid a teacher a fair wage (without union dues)? What would that save a school district each year? Seems like a lot to me. New computers, books, facilities etc. All for the student. That’s just two things off the top of my head. If I were to research the subject a little, I’m sure I could find many more.

    So, go peddle your pro-union hate somewhere else or talk about something you actually know about!!! (I even put the three exclamation points).

    In your earlier post, you mentioned that the person you were attacking got kicked out of a union. Let me know how you do that. I’d love for my union to leave me alone since they aren’t doing crap for me. If nothing else, give a worker the right to choose. Make it a Right To Work state.

  13. peaarnold says:

    Since when is it the job of the union to improve education????? The role of teacher unions is to protect teachers from ignorant people who think they have all the answers, regarding education. Typically these people have NO classroom experience, other than as a student. Can anyone name one profession that receives so much critique from people with zero experience or training in the field? Do you blame the police guild when there is a rise in crime? Bottom line is that education reform is a very complex issue. Only simple, uninformed people think they have all the answers. Bagging on teachers is proof that unions are STILL needed in society.

  14. Fibonacci says:

    Well, I don’t even belong to a union, but when I did, they only bargained working conditions. I was there, were you? As far as “protecting bad teachers” that is a typical ignorant miscinception. The union protects the PROCESS, not the teacher. Teachers don’t want bad teachers and if an administrator does his or her job bad teachers can be removed. Also, not all new teachers are goood and being a senior teacher does not mean burned out. Tell me, what is YOUR qualification for judging schools?

  15. LornaDoone says:

    “Now, people earn fair wages, work in safe conditions, are free from harassment and unfair practices.”

    Someone has done a wonderful job of being totally ignorant of the multiple violations by Walmart.

    My mother was a member of the retail clerks union when she worked at a department store. They didn’t make you work off the clock or lock you in the building.

  16. took14theteam says:


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