Editorial: Public school employees under attack

“The irony should be lost on no one that the very people who seek to deprive public employees of their federally protected right to organize, and to deny them a portion of their health and pension benefits, are the ones who have championed giving tax cuts to millionaires, further exacerbating the fiscal crisis,” says the American Federation of Teachers. “Requiring sacrifices from working people but not from the very wealthy is not a viable solution.”

Are there reforms that should be made to schools’ collective bargaining practices? Yes, but lawmakers should leave these reforms to local municipalities—a concept that I thought was central to the conservative movement.

For more on school labor-management relations:

ED to unions, districts: Can’t we all just get along?

How to raise student achievement through better labor-management collaboration

Wisconsin protests grow as teachers balk at proposed legislation

For more on school reform:

Expert: Federal school reform plan is wrong

School Reform Center at eSN Online

Beyond the hypocrisy of a party that believes in less government control passing sweeping legislation that infringes on the rights of individuals, these attacks on public school employees will make it harder to recruit and retain more highly effective teachers in our nation’s schools—something policy makers and education leaders from both sides of the political spectrum agree is important.

President Obama is asking for money in his budget for fiscal year 2012 to recruit 10,000 new math and science teachers over the next few years to fill what experts say is a dire need. How likely is it that the best and the brightest young minds are going to want to enter the teaching profession, when they see educators’ benefits being hijacked?

If U.S. schools continue to lose too many smart, dynamic college graduates to the private sector, it won’t just be current teachers who are stung by these attacks; the nation’s students stand to suffer, too.

Dennis Pierce

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