As Republicans are painfully reminded, progressives thrive on deception. Throw public sector unions into the mix and the worst aspects of Chicago-style cronyism and pay-to-play politics inevitably surface. Add national teachers’ unions, and the potential for a previously unimaginable pay-to-play scam — a scam conservatives might blindly and reflexively support — becomes all too real.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2011 union membership rate for the public sector was 37.0%. For private sector workers, the rate was 6.9%. Education, training, and library occupations were 36.8% unionized. Particularly in the private sector, union membership is at historic lows, an issue unions have hoped to reverse with the assistance of President Obama.
They have had little success. Card Check, which would eliminate secret ballots in union certification votes, has thus far failed. Mr. Obama has hoped to address this and other labor issues by stacking the National Labor Relations Board with recess appointments of questionable constitutionality, but that maneuver is being fought in the courts and the outcome remains uncertain.
As with gun control, the Obama administration is ever busy at under-the-radar scheming. The most recent attempt to swell education union rolls involves cleverly co-opting some of the rhetoric and philosophy of conservatives — most notably the concept of “accountability.” Fox News reported on a maneuver that could, at least on the surface, have come directly from the conservative playbook:
A powerful teachers union on Monday proposed a so-called “bar exam” that intends to raise standards for incoming teachers — a move that comes amid calls for broad-scale education union reform.
The proposal by the American Federation of Teachers calls for a nationwide standardized test that would be administered by state-level unions, similar to the way states host bar exams for lawyers.
Union President Randi Weingarten said the proposed competency test is largely in response to young public-school teachers expressing concerns about being unprepared to enter a classroom.”
With George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law still in place, so-called “accountability” is still holding sway in the nation’s schools despite rapidly declining revenues available for obscenely expensive high-stakes tests, such as the nearly half-billion dollars Texas is spending for five years worth. All that’s missing from the new proposal is a plea for “fairness”. Ahem:
“It’s not fair to students, and it’s not fair to teachers if they are not prepared on Day One,” [Weingarten] said.
A mandatory standardized test, and federal government mandates to improve “accountability”: what’s not for conservatives to like?
Teachers unions have recently faced increased criticism, particularly from Republican governors, allegedly for demanding high teacher salaries without providing their states with affordable and quality educations.
Though poor-performing tenured teachers are among the biggest concerns, because they are difficult if not impossible to fire, the union proposal does not address that issue.
A union task force came up with the test, which its board of directors still must approve before asking states to adopt the concept.
The task force also calls for teachers and educators to set and enforce the standards and said the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards has agreed to get all parties together to design the standards.
It will surprise no one familiar with the Obama administration and progressive tactics to learn:
Education Secretary Arne Duncan is commending the proposal. He says the U.S. shouldn’t tolerate having unprepared teachers.
Their solution to a supposed nationwide crisis of unprepared teachers is a mandatory national exam — like the bar exam — administered by education unions. The fact that bar exams do not weed out incompetent – or even criminal — lawyers aside, this is a solution to a nonexistent problem, and one of the more clever political scams ever hatched.