New Prager University Video: How Teachers Unions Hurt Schools

The latest from Prager University:

Did you go to public school? Do you have a child, relative, or friend in public school? The answer is most likely “yes”. Public schools matter to everyone. They are the main educator of America’s children. So when groups that have a huge affect on education aren’t primarily interested in, well, education, there’s a problem. Those groups are teachers unions.

In our newest free, 5-minute video, Stanford Professor of Political Science Dr. Terry Moe explains why teachers unions are hurting America’s children, and what we can do about this. Here’s Prof. Moe’s book on the topic.

What Aren’t Your Kids Learning About America?

Conservative critics of left-wing bias in public education have noshortageofhorrorstoriesto make their point, such as Tanya Dixon-Neely, the North Carolina teacher who is keeping her job despite getting caught on tape in May berating a student for criticizing Barack Obama and telling the class they could get arrested for bad-mouthing their presidents.
But the more pervasive danger to future generations’ political understanding is subtler than outright indoctrination. Even when teachers aren’t out to push an agenda, social studies courses tend to take a superficial approach that may relay key historical events adequately, but provides only the most superficial understanding of the theories and values behind them, if at all.
Don’t believe me? Here are a few simple questions you can ask your kids to judge for yourself just how well served they’ve been in their Social Studies classes:
1.) Who was John Locke, and what did he contribute to the Founding? Despite dying seventy-two years before the Declaration of Independence, the great English philosopher could be thought of as the first Founder, since his writings established the natural right and social compact theories at the Declaration’s heart. Thomas Jefferson’s formulation that “ all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” and “that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” is basically the Cliff Notes version of Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government, which proposed consent as government’s only moral justification because nobody has a divine claim over anyone else, protecting individual rights as government’s just purpose, and developed a rational basis for objectively defining what is and is not a right.
2.) What is the significance of the Federalist Papers? Written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay to persuade the new nation to adopt the Constitution, there is no more authoritative guide to our government—and yet, to most students, it’s a footnote at best. They’re denied some of the Founders’ most important lessons, like Federalist 10on the dangers of faction (groups “ actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to…the permanent and aggregate interests of the community”), Federalist 45 on the difference between federal and state roles (“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite”), Federalist 51 on human nature’s implications for politics (“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary”), or the papers’ extensive analysis of the vital difference between direct democracy and the constitutional republic America was designed as. The Federalist Papers reveal that there’s careful thought and important purpose behind every aspect of our Constitution, yet the average high-schooler is likely to graduate with the impression that constitutional mechanics like the Electoral College, separation of powers, and bicameralism were either mere products of sectional compromise or the outdated fallacies of old, white elites.
3.) How did the Founders treat slavery? Conventional wisdom paints the Founders as simply hypocrites who proclaimed liberty for themselves while denying it to blacks. But while the stain of slavery on our history is real, our forefathers’ indifference on the subject is not. Slaveholders held enough power to keep the practice alive, but the Founders overwhelmingly opposed and condemned it. Consider the Three-Fifths Compromise. Everybody knows the constitutional provision that counts slaves as three-fifths of a whole person for purposes of apportioning House seats, but how many know that it was the slaveholders who wanted their slaves to be counted fully, so they could reap the benefits of additional Congressmen who would vote with pro-slavery interests, like the preservation of slavery, fugitive slave laws, and support for slavery in the territories? By counting them as three-fifths, the framers of the Constitution gave slave states lessinfluence over Congress than counting slaves fully would have, without completely alienating their willingness to ratify the Constitution. In fact, the compromise actually gave states an incentive to free their slaves: if their slaves became free men, they’d get more representatives.
Public schools may teach kids the whos, whats, wheres, and whens of American history and politics, but not the whys—an inexcusable inadequacy that denies them what they need most to become civic-minded adults, and demands much greater attention in America’s education debate.

Scott Walker Stands Victorious as Wisconsin Embodies the Best of Democracy

They tried fleeing the state to indefinitely halt the legislative process. It failed. They poured all the hate they could into their demonstrations and propaganda. It failed. They tried intimidating legislators. It failed. They tried pressuring businesses into supporting them. It failed. They tried persecuting a judge. It failed. They tried demonizingRepublican financial contributors. It failed. They tried smearing the governor’s professional ethics and personal morality. It failed. They tried lying to the public about budgets and benefits. It failed. They tried flouting the law by judicial fiat. It failed. They had teachers commit fraud and indoctrinate their students. It failed. They tried hiding data that undermined their case. It failed. They even managed to get Voter ID out of the way to simplify election fraud. That failed. In total, they cost taxpayers over $9 million.

The motley alliance of union thugs, partisan sycophants, education establishment snobs, left-wing fanatics, and brainwashed college kids that came together to preserve government-employee unions’ stranglehold over Wisconsin took the best shot they had against Governor Scott Walker.

Well, their best just. Wasn’t. Good. Enough.

After more than a year of liberals justifying demagoguery and mob agitation with insipid chants of “this is what democracy looks like,” the state of Wisconsin reaffirmed its trust in Walker in a glorious display of actual democracy—not the shout-down-the-Special-Olympics kind, but the cast-votes-and-count-‘em-up kind.

Though the sore losers will never, ever admit it, June 5, 2012 may go down in history as the day Wisconsin proved America’s slide into fiscal ruin isn’t inevitable, that special interest groups aren’t invincible, and that greed and misinformation don’t have absolute dominion over the public consciousness.

Above all, Wisconsin proved that courage is still viable in American politics—that principled action to serve the long-term interests of the whole over the selfish desires of the loudest or the most well-connected doesn’t have to be a political death sentence.

Granted, the Wisconsin Left has by no means been destroyed (nor has the moderate wing of the GOP). The Democrats and their supporters won’t grow morally from the experience, and the unions are still a force to be reckoned with. But their veneer of invincibility is gone, and it’s never coming back. The conventional wisdom of American politics is being rewritten as we speak.

As conservatives go forward with their economic and social agendas, we also need to take measures to make sure the Left can’t put Wisconsin through this insanity again. In particular, we need to fight to reinstate Voter ID, reform the recall process so it can’t be exploited to punish policy decisions, and do somethingabout classroom indoctrination.

Be proud, Wisconsin. You showed America what democracy looks like at its best.

Wisconsin Schools Are Doing Great. GOP Messaging? Not So Much

Today, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker released the following graph, based on data that the kind souls at the Wisconsin Education Association Council tried to hide from the public, on the condition of our state’s public schools:
Reforms Working.png
In all four categories – teacher layoffs, class size, retention of extracurricular activities, and retention of fine arts and vocational programs – the teachers union’s own data shows that a higher percentage of school districts are doing well (in two cases, a drastically higher percentage) under Walker’s much-demonized collective bargaining reforms than not only the average for the previous decade, but for that category’s best year in the previous decade.
Add that to what we’ve known for over a year about the benefits teachers will still enjoy under Act 10, not to mention the recent revelation that Wisconsin taxpayers still pay them more than do taxpayers of the surrounding states, and the whole point of the recall collapses. But a narrow majority of voters still say they’d vote Walker out of office.
How can that be? Simple: because the Republicans are doing a lousy job of informing the people. The Left is relentlessly pushing Big Union’s lies through the schools, through the press, and through thuggery, and what advertising the Walker Campaign and the GOP have done in response barely even begins to compensate for the dishonesty.
Why isn’t the above chart in full-page newspaper ads across the state? Why aren’t the success stories from around the state on television every night? Why aren’t graphic comparisons of public and private-sector benefits on billboards throughout Wisconsin? I fear our party leaders are putting far too much faith in talk radio and social media to do the educational heavy lifting for them, content that they can get away with simply fundraising, rallying the faithful, and preaching to the choir.
That’s a recipe for disaster. The people we need to reach, the people who will make the difference come Election Day, aren’t listening to Charlie Sykes or Mark Belling. They don’t have Twitter feeds for conservative reports to show up in. They aren’t glued to the blogosphere. The only way Republicans can get the truth to them is by taking it to where they’re going to be: the commercial breaks of American Idol, the pages of their local paper, the airwaves of their favorite music stations, the billboards along the highways they take to work.
Comforting though it might be for conservatives to think otherwise, talk radio is not equal time. The blogosphere hasn’t created a fundamentally more informed populace. And Scott Walker’s personal goodness will not be enough to save his job in independent voters’ eyes. If we lose this thing, Wisconsin’s Republican elite will have nobody to blame but themselves.

Guns Don’t Kill People, Political Correctness Does

Teachers reprimanded two seven-year-old boys for playing army games – because it amounted to ‘threatening behaviour’.
The youngsters were disciplined after they were spotted making gun-shapes with their hands.

Staff at Nathaniel Newton Infant School in Nuneaton, Warks., even told the boys’ parents to ‘reprimand’ them.

A father of one of the boys said: ‘This is ridiculous. How can you tell a seven-year-old boy he cannot play guns and armies with his friends.
‘Another parent was called over for the same reason.

‘We were told to reprimand our son for this and to tell him he cannot play “guns” anymore.

Obviously, it must be made perfectly clear to kids that guns aren’t toys, and if a teacher sees signs that someone doesn’t get that, then intervention in what he’s doing during recess is probably in order. But you don’t need to crack down on perfectly innocent and natural children’s fantasies to get that message across, any more than teaching them auto safety by keeping them from pretending to be NASCAR drivers

What prevents kids from misusing either is instilling in them a much broader ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy, as well as a basic respect for human life. The likelihood of misusing a gun isn’t an isolated issue that pops up in a vacuum. It’s either symptomatic of, or enabled by, broader problems that telling kids what they can’t play at recess just isn’t gonna solve, such as bad parents who don’t safely lock up their weapons or don’t teach their kids morality and responsibility.

Kids have always pretended to be cops or soldiers, and, the simple truth is that their primary purpose and characteristic of these institutions is protecting the rights of the community through lethal force, so if children are going to play army or police, then guns are going to be an unavoidable part of that scenario. And that’s not a bad thing. Because in the hands of the people these kids were emulating, guns aren’t intended to kill, but to protect. Children fantasizing about fighting fire with fire and standing up to genuine bad guys is not only natural, but healthy. 
Free societies need to pass a certain degree of fighting spirit, of warrior ethos, from one generation to the next – to venerate the fighting and punishing of evil, the willingness to fight and die if need be, etc. I’m not talking about anything close to Sparta-like indoctrination, but at the very least we shouldn’t be coming down on kids when their imaginations are captured by our society’s best and most vital role models.

Indeed, in their zeal to end “threatening behaviour” wherever it arises, the practical effect of such rules is more likely to be the message that military and police service aren’t something children should emulate or look up to, because they’re inherently “threatening” professions.

Around the Web

With collective bargaining reform passed, Scott Walker has called off the layoff notices.

If you know anything about the whereabouts of Marizela Perez, please share.

A roundup of on-site reporting of the chaotic takeover of the Wisconsin State Capitol.

Jill Stanek takes a look at the polling data and asks just how controversial being pro-life really is.

At NewsReal, Lisa Graas draws attention to pro-liberty Muslims the media doesn’t want you to know about.

The Union Label: Let the Buyer Beware

Scott Walker’s detractors are just trying to protect teachers, right?

Wrong:

[I]n June 2010, long before Scott Walker was elected, Milwaukee Public Schools fired 482 teachers–including Megan Sampson, a young educator named an “outstanding first year teacher” by the Wisconsin Council of Teachers of English.

Sampson and 481 other teachers were laid off for two reasons having to do with collective bargaining: First, the collective bargaining agreement allowed the teachers’ union to choose between small reductions in health care benefits and layoffs. “Given the opportunity, of course I would switch to a different [health care] plan to save my job, or the jobs of 10 other teachers,” Sampson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The teachers’ union felt differently. It chose layoffs. 

Second, the collective bargaining agreement guaranteed that teachers would be laid off on the basis of seniority rather than merit (or lack thereof). Therefore, Sampson, and likely a lot of other promising young educators got the axe, while the rest of the teachers, good and bad alike, were protected simply by the amount of time they’d put in.

And “for the children”? That’s crap, too:

A 2004 study by Hofstra University scholar Charol Shakeshaft on the sexual misconduct of public school teachers is a shocking wake-up call that was widely ignored by the public union-friendly press. And even worse, the public teachers unions protected many of the offending teachers and allowed them to quietly transfer to other schools where they victimized more children. “Examples include touching breasts or genitals of students; oral, anal, and vaginal penetration; showing students pictures of a sexual nature; and sexually-related conversations, jokes, or questions directed at students.”

Everyone agrees that the sex scandal in the Catholic Church is a tragedy of immense proportions and the media has done a good job at uncovering the network of cover-ups and lies that harmed children irreparably. But what would you say if I told you that the public school system, which is about the same size as the Catholic Church in America with a school in every parish, has more sexual abuse cases in ten years than the Catholic Church has had in fifty?