Is It Time To Declare Teachers Unions “Enemies Of The People”? [CORRECTED]

.Back when Silent Calvin Coolidge was Governor of Massachusetts, his response when much of the Boston Police Department went on strike in 1919 was to draw a line in the metaphorical sand that has stiffened the spine of many executives since, notably Ronald Reagan when the air traffic controllers tried to extort the nation. Responding to labor leader Samuel Gompers, who asserted that the police were in the right, Coolidge responded via telegram on September 14, 1919 , “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anyone, anywhere, any time.”

Public unions are an ethics abomination, permitting employees to essentially hold the public hostage. The current conduct of teachers unions, flexing their muscles and attempting to use their leverage over children to push an ideological agenda largely unrelated to education, may not be endangering public safety in the strict terms of Coolidge’s day, but we need a new Calvin to expand his principle  to hold that there is no right to strike against the public welfare. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 4/7/18: Amazing Facts Edition: Every Marriage Is Bi-Racial, Fat Is Beautiful, Sex With Students Is No Big Deal, And Discrimination Is Good

Good Morning!

1. Are fake media stereotypes ethical if they are benign stereotypes? When my son was a young child, I watched a lot of children’s programming, and immediately noticed that almost every show had a computer nerd, tech genius character, and that character was almost invariably black. I get it: the idea was to fight pernicious stereotypes with opposite stereotypes, but neither stereotype was accurate. (Lots of prime time movies and TV shows for adults also perpetuated the black tech genius  trope, like “Die Hard,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and many others.)

Now Madison Avenue  or their corporate clients apparently want American to believe that inter-racial marriage is the norm. I literally could not care less who people marry, but I just sat through four TV ads in a row featuring black and white couples. I failed at my admittedly limited attempt to find out what current percentage of American married couples are bi-racial, but  the last study, which is nine years old, found that less than 9% of married couples consisted of a white and an African American spouse. That’s great, but the popular culture should be reflecting society, not using its power to manipulate it according to its own agenda.

2. Take this, for example:

This is part of new “woke” Gillette campaign. “Go out there and slay the day!” says the corporate tweet accompanying the photo.

Funny, I’ve been told that obesity has become a serious public health problem in the U.S.  Fat-shaming is wrong—the Woke still constantly insult the President by calling him fat, and that babe in the photo makes him look like Chris Sale—but fat glorification is irresponsible. But hey, what’s consistency when the idea is to virtue-signal like crazy? “[We’re]committed to representing beautiful women of all shapes, sizes, and skin types because ALL types of beautiful skin deserve to be shown. We love Anna because she lives out loud and loves her skin no matter how the “rules” say she should display” says Gillette. Continue reading

The Arlington, Texas School District Flunks Accountability

The latest in teaching aids in Arlington, Texas

The latest in teaching aids in Arlington, Texas

If a Walmart worker poured pencil shavings down the throat of a customer, he would be fired. If the CEO of Boeing poured pencil shaving down the throat of a company accountant, he’d be out the door before he could utter the word, “Seconds?” If a pediatrician poured pencil shavings down the throat of a patient, she’d lose her license, and if a veterinarian poured pencil shavings down the throat of a kitten, he’d be arrested.

Yet in the Arlington, Texas, School District, the teacher who poured pencil shavings into the mouth of unsuspecting Marquis Jay, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Boles Junior High School, is back on the job after less than a month’s suspension. She apologized, you see. She said that she wasn’t thinking right.

Yes, I’d say that’s a fair description of her actions. But I’d also say that a teacher prone to harming her students in those periodic moments when she is “not thinking right” is a continuing risk to the children. If fact, I’ll confidently state not only that a teacher who attacks a child in this manner—and an attack is what it is—has to be fired, if a parent of a child attending the school involved is to have any justified faith that the school is properly concerned with the welfare of its students, isn’t recruiting instructors from the violent ward at the local Home for the Bewildered, and, in short, doesn’t have an administration staffed by moonlighting Hell’s Angels members. Continue reading

The Emma Sullivan Affair: Not Just An Aberration

Time to double-down.

Yes, it's student-hating teacher Natalie Munroe, back again to remind us that the welfare of our children is no longer guranteed to be the #1 priority for your child's teacher, principal or school board member.

Over the weekend, I managed to ignite a controversy with one sentence I included in my discussion of the ridiculous incident which began when high school student Emma Sullivan tweeted that Kansas Governor Sam Brownback “sucks” and ended with her being called on the carpet for it by her principal. Noting that the incident should have been cut short by the school district administrator telling Brownback’s lackey to stop bullying kids, I wrote,

“But the school district administrator had neither the integrity, courage or common sense to do that, which permitted the fiasco to be passed on to the next spineless incompetent, and which also, I submit, tells us all we need to know about why public education in the U.S. is a disgrace.”

“I disagree with your statement and think it is an unfair generalization!” wrote Michael Boyd. Tim LeVier wrote, “…how many public schools are there in the U.S.? How many students are educated (enrolled) by those public schools in the U.S.? How many “social networking” fiascos have there been? Do the positive situations get the same amount of attention as the negative?”

Obviously, I was insufficiently precise, as both Michael and Tim are solid analysts and deft critics here. I was not suggesting that this one incident proves anything about the U.S. public education system. No one incident in a Kansas high school can prove anything about the system as a whole. I was, however, asserting that the deficits of character, warped priorities and lack of common sense displayed by the administrators in this incident are emblematic of the problems of the educational system as a whole. There are too many incompetents in high places, and too often the priorities of the system lie with staying on the right side of the political structure rather than being concerned about the welfare and development of students. To be broader still, my statement indicated that this is the kind of incident that shows why I believe that we can no longer trust the educational establishment, which has “jumped the shark,” “nuked the fridge”, or any other metaphor you  designate to describe when a profession has lost its moorings to professionalism and ethics. Continue reading

Teachers Unions: Not Unethical, Just Uninterested in the Public Welfare

His union is competent; it's just that he isn't

Public unions and their Democratic supporters (and supported) are not going to have much luck winning the public relations battle with Republicans as long as teachers unions are front and center. Teachers unions are not— I repeat not-–primarily concerned with the welfare of schoolchildren, or the public, or the deficit, or even education. Their priority is the welfare of their membership, and if any of those other stakeholders have to take it on the chin to make sure that the teachers have good salaries, benefits and iron-clad job security, well, that’s just the way of the world.

This doesn’t make teachers unions unethical any more than lawyers are unethical to represent their clients. But it does mean that any time a teacher’s union official claims to be concerned with anything but his members, he or she is lying through their teeth. And that is unethical. Continue reading

The Trouble With Teachers Unions

The Los Angeles teachers union is demonstrating the difficult and complex ethical dilemmas endemic to all teachers unions. Because the unions represent teachers rather than their students, the unions can, and often are, placed in the position of supporting their membership to the detriment of the children the members have a duty to serve. And because the teachers who need the most protection from adverse employment actions are usually the worst and least dedicated teachers, a moderation of the unions’ priorities to recognize a duty to the students is less likely to occur.

The L.A. union’s president just announced that he was organizing a “massive boycott” of The Los Angeles Times because the newspaper has begun publishing a series of articles that explore student test scores to assess the effectiveness of Los Angeles public school teachers. Continue reading