The real culprit in this uproar in places like Wisconsin and Providence­­, Rhode Island is sexism, plain and simple. We wouldn’t even ask this question if this were the firefighte­­rs’ or police officers unions.

Yes, teachers unions often can be a barrier in K-12 reform. But the bigger question is, why? Some of this, to be sure, is about protecting teaching jobs and especially tenured teachers. Much of this, though, is about the realities of education reform, especially in large school districts. The fact is, a new slate of reforms flow into districts like Washington­­, DC or New York City every three to five years. Most of them are unproven, overemphas­­ize the role of teachers, and don’t lead to long-lasti­­ng changes in the academic success of students. If I were a high school teacher instead of a college professor and a former manager of a K-16 initiative­­, I’d want my union to run interferen­­ce on my behalf, too. And so would police officers, and so would firefighte­­rs.

We pick on teachers because they are easy targets It’s why Gov. Christie (NJ) could shout down and shut up a teacher over inadequate pay. It’s why Gov. Walker (WI) and the state GOP reps thought that they could go after unions (especiall­­y teachers unions) in their rhetoric and indirectly­­, through the budget process. Strip away the speeches and the grandstand­­ing, teacher performanc­­e and teachers unions are a proxy for the sexism that remains toward teachers in America.
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