The problem with teachers’ unions *UPDATED*

My dad was a California teacher and a member of the teachers’ union.  He’d also been a communist in his youth in Weimar Germany and socialist Israel, so you’d think a union would have been a comfortable fit (although he was a Democrat by this time). In fact, he loathed the union.

He had two reasons for doing so:  First, union management was in bed with school administration, so the teacher’s got pay raises that were about half the rise in costs due to inflation, while the union leadership ensured that both they and the administrators kept up with inflation.  The result, for us, was a barely living wage.  Already then, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the system was rigged.

Second, even then, the union had nothing to do with education, and everything to do with Leftist politics.  The big fight I remember was over bilingualism.

The union wanted to teach Hispanic students only in Spanish because it was unfair and imperialist to force them to speak English.  My dad, who spoke English (and exquisite English it was) as his third language, stood up in a union meeting and spoke out against this misguided policy.  He was booed down as a racist.  The only person who stood up in his defense was a teeny old black lady who roundly castigated the crowd for consigning a generation of students to the ghettos.  No one had the courage to call her a racist, but she too was booed down.

Teaching can be an honorable profession.  Many teachers are deeply committed to their students and to the greater cause of a true education.  But the teachers’ unions are a cancer that has nothing to do with education, and everything to do with advancing Leftist ideology.  The only thing that’s changed since my father’s day is that the teachers, too many of whom now cater to a distinctly Leftist slate, get a living wage.

And with that introduction, I suggest you read Zombie’s latest about the protests teachers staged in California last month.

UPDATE:  More on teachers’ unions and their unsavory friends.

Dems once again show how little they think of their constituents

Dems have, for decades, shown how little they think of the African-Americans who constitute their most loyal and reliable constitutents. In statement after statement, and policy after policy, they show that they believe African-Americans to be incapable of caring for themselves without government intervention; incapable of making educational strides without government intervention; incapable of functioning in the workplace without government intervention; indeed, even incapable of making the right political choices without the Dems on their sides (as evidenced by the Dem statements about defective African-Americans who choose to be Republicans). Now, having destroyed the blacks, the browns are in the Dems' sights as helpless people incapable of functioning without intensive government oversight.

Frankly, that's the only way I can explain Sen. Harry Reid's response to a Senate initiative to make English the "official" language in the United States: "This amendment is racist. I think it's directed basically to people who speak Spanish." (You can hear Reid's statement here.) The unspoken subtext in this statement is that Hispanics are too dense to learn English. Wow, is that an insult or what! All people, at all times in this history of spoken human-kind, have been capable of learning multiple languages except, apparently, the Spanish, whom Reid thinks just can't handle it.

At least one Senator — Sen. James Inhofe — saw through Reid's faux concern for the "poor Hispanics" among us:

When Mr. Inhofe took to the floor yesterday, he didn't address Mr. Reid over his charge of racism but did defend his proposal.

"I think it's an insult to Hispanics to say that we are not going to have English as the national language because you're not capable of operating and speaking and succeeding in a country like this," he said.

To their credit, eleven Democrats agreed with Inhofe, since they voted for the initative. However, the majority of Democrats, who did not vote for the initiative, should be reviled in the Hispanic community for having revealed their true feelings about the minorities they purport to represent: They want to keep them entrapped in ghettoes forever, perpetually barred by language from tasting the real fruits of American prosperity.

UPDATE: The audio link I inserted above comes courtesy of Webloggin. It's totally worth listening to. In addition to his "racist" remark, Reid rounds out his statement with a little narrative. In it, he describes his frustration, after being locked out of his hotel room, at dealing with a Hispanic maid who couldn't understand his plight, since she spoke no English. Riding to the rescue was Reid's son, who spoke Spanish. So clearly, Reid thinks true bilingualism — the ability to communicate well in English and another language — is a virtue. Even more significantly, the story illustrates his underlying belief that bilingualism is a skill that is, or should be, reserved to the white middle class. Otherwise, how can he explain why it's okay for his son to speak Spanish, but racist to urge that maid to speak English?

Reid's story, frankly, is one of the ugliest examples of the old "white man's burden" mentality that I've ever seen.

Talking to Technorati: , , , , , ,

Bilingualism and HBO

Sometimes, someone writes an article that manages to touch upon more than one issue near and dear to me. Catherine Seipp managed to do just that when she wrote about Walkout, a new HBO film. Walkout is about historic injustice, circa 1968:

You’d need a heart of stone not to root for the plucky, fresh-faced kids in Walkout, a new HBO film about Mexican-American teenagers who in 1968 organized classroom walkouts to protest conditions at their East Los Angeles high schools. The movie, which premieres March 18, is directed by actor and activist Edward James Olmos, and depicts Latino students locked out of school bathrooms at lunch, discouraged from applying to college, and paddled for speaking Spanish in class. Their peaceful demonstration got them in trouble with school officials and beaten by police, while the teacher who inspired them was arrested and faced with a possible prison sentence of 66 years (the charges were later dropped). But in the end, by golly, the school board was forced to pay attention.

Seipp points out that, while the movie makes bilingualism seem like a wonderful thing it is, in fact, anything but:

The walkouts ushered in three decades of herding native Spanish-speaking students into a patronizing ethnic and linguistic ghetto, broken only when California’s Prop. 227 severely scaled back bilingual education here in 1998. As it happens, this year marks the 10th anniversary of the state’s anti-bilingual backlash, which began when Skid Row activist and Episcopal priest Alice Callaghan organized about 100 Spanish-speaking parents who wanted their Ninth Street Elementary children to learn English in class.

I’ve always thought that bilingualism is one of the worst curses the “educationalists” of the 1960s and 1970s visited on immigrant children. The language of power and money in America is English — not Spanish, not Chinese. If you want to get ahead, that’s the language you learn.

I had a vicarious run-in with the politics behind multiculturalism when I was a little girl in the early 1970s. My Dad, an English teacher, had attended a massive union meeting that was supposed to be about pay, and devolved into a free-for-all about curriculum. When bilingualism came up, my father, who was himself an immigrant, stood up and stated that he was opposed to it, because it prevented first generation children from mainstreaming at school and integrating into the larger society. He was instantly, loudly, and in a most ugly way, booed down as a racist pig. Only one person came to his defense. A tiny, old black teacher stood up and shouted at the crowd, “You listen to Mr. Bookworm, Sr. He’s absolutely right. If we keep going with this bilingual education, we’re keeping our children in the ghetto forever.” Thirty years later, that lady and my Dad both stand vindicated, but nothing changes.

The other thing Seipp’s article made me think of is the hugely agenda driven movies HBO is producing. A couple of years ago, Mr. Bookworm used Netflix to earmark at least 10 HBO films which we’ve been watching at intervals over the years. Or, I should say, trying to watch. Without exception, the movies he found at Netflix take place in the past, and portray a world in which evil white people (usually men) are oppressing (a) minorities; (b) women; or (c) gays (or any combination of these). There’s nothing subtle in these portrayals. The men are cartoon-like in their hatred for all these oppressed people, and the oppressed people are saint-like in their oppression. Some examples are The Affair, And The Band Played On, Vendetta, and If These Walls Could Talk, all of which you can read about here.
While it’s true that HBO has produced a lot of fine shows and movies, it’s really amazing how many of the movies are Left-wing, race baiting (with the race baited being white), anti-American polemics. They’re lousy movies, and they’re all available as part of the package for the enormous number of Americans who subscribe to premium cable packages.
Talking to Technorati: ,