Teachers unions and what’s good for the children

Here’s Albert Shanker, who was president of the American Federation of Teachers for twenty-three years, from 1974-1997:

“When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”

The quotation’s accuracy is disputed, but it captures perfectly the relevant stances in education’s structurally adversarial dynamic.

As in legal proceedings, attorneys are paid to advance their clients’ interests in a multi-factioned adversarial process. Truth and justice might emerge from the courtroom, but that’s not the goal of the “hired-gun” attorney.

In education proceedings, students and parents and teachers and unions and administrators and school boards and state and federal governments all have their interests to protect in an often-adversarial process. Education might emerge from the schoolroom, but that’s not the goal of the “hired-gun” union reps.

Public Choice and our semi-functional education system.

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