Against the teachers’ union bailout

Even the Washington Post is against the bailout for teachers’ unions:

TO GOVERN is to choose, and nothing lays bare a government’s true priorities like the choices it makes about spending taxpayers’ money. In that regard, the Senate’s decision to spend $10 billion on education jobs this week is revealing — and deeply discouraging.

The crusade for an education jobs bill, led by the Obama administration and Democratic leaders in Congress, has always struck us as more of an election-year favor for teachers unions than an optimal use of public resources. Billed as an effort to stimulate the economy, it’s not clearly more effective than alternative uses of the cash. Yes, school budgets are tight across the country, but the teacher layoff “crisis” is exaggerated. In fact, as happens each year, many teachers who got pink slips in the spring have been notified that they’ll be hired after all. Many layoffs could have been — and indeed have been — avoided by modest union concessions.

As of last school year, the money for 5.5 percent of the 6 million K-12 jobs nationwide came from Washington through the 2009 stimulus; the new money reinforces this dangerous dependency.

What I like about this is the unmasking of the teachers’ unions, one of the key tribes that make up the Democratic party. For a long time the teachers’ unions have been generally well regarded by much of the public — they’re teachers after all! — despite the fact that they consistently work against the interests of students. Of course, this is the ordinary role of unions: to advance the interests of the union (and occasionally the rank-and-file) against the interests of the employer, but they’ve often been able to disguise that fact. For example, they use names (e.g., National Education Association) that suggest that they are education groups instead of labor groups. Now people are getting to see the teachers’ unions behaving like (gasp) unions, refusing even modest concessions while everything collapses around them.

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