With what's happening today in Wisconsin we're hearing a lot about civil rights
and workers rights
and all those buzz words the Left uses to make something wicked sound noble. The idea that collective bargaining is some kind of right is beyond absurd. I've been in the workforce for going on 30 years now and have never had the right to collective bargain and up until the aristocratic public worker class rose up in my home state to hold onto their government-enforced aristocracy, I had no idea what collective bargaining was. Essentially, "collective bargaining" allows a union to have a say, not only in wages and benefits, but also in company policy, everything from how many hours an employee will work each week to, incredibly, the procedures necessary for termination.
If you want to see first hand a heartbreaking and absolutely frightening look at the human toll of giving these corrupt teachers unions collective bargaining rights, I urge you again
to see what is the most important film of last year, the unfairly Oscar-snubbed (for political reasons
) "Waiting for Superman." Written and directed by Davis Guggenheim, the proud, union-loving liberal who won an Oscar for his Global Warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," not only is this searing look at the devastation unions have brought down on our children an exceptionally well produced film, but it's also a very personal work from a filmmaker who probably had a Road to Damascus moment. Guggenheim went in likely expecting to discover a public school system under assault by budget cuts and underpaid teachers. What he found was the complete opposite. That he told the truth, that he bucked the Leftist narrative and put what's best for America's children above his own preconceived notions and then picked a fight with one of the most ruthless unions in America, is to this Oscar winner's eternal credit.
Examining the failed public school system through the eyes of a number of young children trapped in or headed for what Guggenheim calls "failure factories," "Waiting for Superman" informs us that education funding is simply not the problem. In fact, when indexed for inflation, education funding has doubled over the last few decades and in return our schools have only gotten worse. The problem is, pure and simple, bad teachers who can't be fired and the corrupt unions that use "collective bargaining" to make it nearly impossible to fire them. For example, from the New York Times
“Waiting for ‘Superman” is filled with disturbing statistics. In Illinois, where one in 57 doctors loses his medical license and one in 97 lawyers loses his law license, only one in 2,500 teachers loses his credentials, because of union rules. The film briefly visits a “rubber room” in New York City where idle teachers accused of misconduct wait months and sometimes years for hearings while drawing full salaries at an annual cost of $65 million.
That is the price of collective bargaining. Awful teachers protected by tenure who can't be terminated. Furthermore, one bad teacher can ruin a child, can set them back to a point where they can never catch up and are likely to drop out due to frustration. In other words, collective bargaining is ruining lives
, millions of them all over the country. Here are more examples of this collective bargaining travesty
In the end, Guggenheim identifies two problems. The first is the conflicting agendas of federal, state and local authorities and the torturous bureaucracy they combine to create. The second is teachers unions that manipulate collective bargaining and politics to stifle reforms and protect blatantly incompetent members.
The latter problem puts progressives and other supporters of traditional public schools in an awful bind. Public schools, as inculcators of common values and a means to help children develop their minds and advance in society, are near and dear to their hearts. But then again so are unions, who supposedly are needed to protect teachers from the twin evils of politicized school boards and the ravages of the marketplace.
And finally, the real kicker
But as Guggenheim himself observes, many of the obstacles that impede public education in the largest cities also affect schools in the suburbs. That includes interference by teachers unions, though things are not as far along; Superman recounts how school officials in Washington, D.C., have to follow 23 steps to fire a bad teacher. In Adrian, Mich., for example, the process is only 13 steps, but of those only five of those are mandated by the state's teacher tenure law. At least another half-dozen are creations of the collective bargaining agreement.
For obvious reasons, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is focused on the effect collective bargaining has on his State's budget
-- which is profound and laid out in detail in this excellent Wall Street Journal piece
. But that's just one reason these godawful public unions must be broken and discarded. "Waiting for Superman" exposes a much harsher cost, the price this immoral "right" has on generations of America's children all to the benefit of a selfish few afflicted with a disease we call entitlement. There are plenty of good teachers out there, but they are lying down with union dogs.
"Waiting for Superman" is a moral piece of righteous filmmaking more relevant today than when it was released last year. Davis Guggenheim deserves our respect for his apostasy and with any luck the next generation of America's school children will owe him and a number of exceptional Republican governors their thanks.
Part of the rationale behind Big Hollywood's is due to our belief that movies matter, that they can affect change. My fingers are crossed that that is exactly the case for this one, which is why I continue to spread its gospel.