To the Editor:
Education Week readers following the coverage of and issues pertaining to unionism and school reform may be confused by two printed responses to my Feb. 28, 2007, letter to the editor.
David Crawmer of New York state (Letters, March 21, 2007) declares that I wrote a “hanging curveball” and goes into a home-run trot, seemingly unaware that he has agreed with my argument. I asserted that teacher and student interests normally converge, and that teachers forced by “reformers” to be in schools where they do not want to be perform less well. Mr. Crawmer asserts that this is also true for students and starts circling the bases, saying I was oblivious to his contention. Au contraire. Having taught now into my 32nd year, it’s obvious that students who don’t want to be in school don’t do well. My point is that we should make school attractive to both students and teachers.
Steven R. Maggi of the anti-union Evergreen Freedom Foundation (Letters, March 28, 2007) writes the familiar anti-union pronouncement that teachers’ unions are anti-teacher. Although ludicrous on its face, his assertion depends on readers’ ignoring the possible explanations. Either the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, with combined voting memberships of 4 million, are engaged in an evil and successful conspiracy to injure and defraud those 4 million members, or those 4 million educators simply don’t understand their own true interests—which the Evergreen folks and their anti-union friends are happy to inform us about.
My letter states my belief that democratically run unions must reflect members’ interests in the same way that elections represent the interests of voters. North Carolina’s educational slogan about this is “teacher working conditions are student learning conditions.” This makes eminent sense to me, and was the point of my letter. Anti-unionists probably should confine themselves to responding to arguments against that assertion, rather than to the jerking of their knees because of my occupation.
Paul J. Phillips
Quincy Education Association
A version of this article appeared in the April 11, 2007 edition of Education Week as Writer Reaffirms Belief in Democratically Run Unions