The NYT appears to be feeling the need to turn against the teachers unions and the educational status quo:
“When did Norma Rae get to be the bad guy?” asks a union leader (Holly Hunter) in the movie. I don’t know, but that’s indeed the state of play when it comes to teachers’ unions, and it’s a dangerous one….
Better teachers, better teachers, better teachers. That’s the mantra of the moment, and implicit in it is the notion that the ones we’ve got aren’t nearly good enough. “It’s a historic high point for demoralization,” said Diane Ravitch, an education historian at New York University.
We have to find a way out of this. Weingarten noted that most public school children are taught by teachers with a union affiliation, if not necessarily a union contract. That won’t change anytime soon. So a constructive dialogue with those unions is essential.
But so is real flexibility from unions, along with their genuine, full-throated awareness that parents are too frustrated, kids too important and public resources too finite for any reflexive, defensive attachments to the old ways of doing things.
Now, I happen to believe that the combination of technology, propaganda, and politics has rendered the 19th century system of schooling obsolete, intellectually inimical, and societally devastating. So it is fascinating to see those who have been the system’s most staunch defenders moving from a stubborn defense of the status quo to what is clearly a fighting withdrawal.