by Warner Todd Huston | June 29, 2010 6:00 pm
Last week the Chicago Tribune published an editorial detailing the biggest reason why unions as they have operated in the U.S. for decades are an illegitimate venture. The Trib published a plea to new Chicago teachers union chief Karen Lewis not to protect the bad teachers under her charge and to help the younger teachers that haven’t yet proved to be bad for kids by allowing the bad ones to be laid off without complaint.
The Trib’s editorial called the practice of keeping bad teachers “dancing lemons,” revealing the sad practice of shuffling bad teachers around the system instead of firing merely because they may have tenure on the job. While new teachers are automatically laid off due to budget cuts, teachers that have a disciplinary problem or a troubled history are kept because they’ve been on the job longer. This is wrong and reflects badly on the union and teachers alike, not to mention that it leads to a bad education for our kids.
There is no doubt that layoffs will have to be made and soon in the Chicago Public Schools. The schools are out of money and the state is tapped out so layoffs are in the cards no matter what else occurs. Unfortunately, it isn’t likely that the bad teachers will get their just deserts and we the tax payers will be stuck paying their undeserved freight while new teachers that deserve a chance to prove themselves won’t get one.
The Trib also makes a salient point about merit evaluations. Teachers constantly rail against them as if it is some crime against their profession. But every other profession in the world is held to standards and expected to perform, so why not teachers? Why do they think they are more special than anyone else? Who do they think they are, anyway?
I have to echo the Trib’s plea to new union chief Lewis. Let Chicago Public Schools Chief Ron Hubeman fire the bad teachers. Don’t stand in his way. It will raise some good will with parents, students and the taxpayers of Illinois and will prove that she is a sensible and visionary leader.
Unfortunately, I doubt she’ll step up to the plate. Lewis will more than likely go to the mat to protect these teachers that are helping ruin our kid’s education. And more’s the shame for this common union practice, one that leads to such a bad reputation.
But here’s to hope that Lewis will prove a different sort.
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