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Rahm Takes on the Blue Model

Rahm Emanuel has just added his name to the growing list of blue politicians taking on the core institutions of the blue model. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Chicago School Board has followed the mayor’s advice and voted on plans to restructure a number of the city’s failing schools—often by dismissing the entire staff and forcing them to reapply for their jobs, and occasionally by closing the schools outright. As would be expected, teachers unions are none too happy. The Chicago Teachers Union had already taken the dramatic step of declining to endorse Emanuel for mayor in last year’s election, and it has complained bitterly about this latest plan.

Over the past year or two, the desire to curb the power of teachers unions has become a point of bipartisan, mainstream consensus. This may just be the tip of the iceberg. As more blue model institutions out themselves as ineffective, expensive and unsustainable, look for blue politicians, especially at the state and local level, to repudiate their past faith. This may be the most important political shift to watch out for in the coming decade.

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  • WigWag

    It could be an important political trend to watch, but there is no compelling evidence that it will help kids or improve schools. It might; it might not. More likely it will have no effect whatsoever.

  • Tom

    I am an inner city public school teacher. I teach refugee and immigrant children. Usually traumatized if not victimized. And, not wholly in disagreement with you. However, that being said, the canary in the coal mine is ‘no more teachers’. While not a pressing problem now in a bad economy, as soon as there is a turn around they numbers of people enetring the field will dwindle, as it did throughout the 90’s and 00’s. Try this experiment for the next week: ask every teenager or young adult in college you meet if they would be interested in a teaching career in an inner city urban high school. I doubt you get even one answer in the affirmative. It’s a job no one wants and if they do take it they generally leave the profession early. It generally takes three years to learn the trade and become proficient at it. Anyway, the canary in the coal mine!

  • Tom

    Please pardon the typing errors above. I am a child of the mid twenieth century and typing on a ‘telephone’ is beyond my late baby boomer capabilities. And, there is no spellcheck!

  • Kenny

    Mr. Mead,

    For what it’s worth: I read your piece ‘Liberalism on Life Support” in The american interest. Those who responed to you — especially Gary (“Monkey business”) Hart didn’t lay a glove on your hypothesis.

    And speaking of the demise of the blue model, which is your favorite topics, V. Inozemtsev, writing in the same issue of TAI, has a key insight. He writes that, for democracy to continue, the ‘franchise should be pared back.’ Amen!

    Yes sir, that Ruskie has it right, Mr. Mead. U.S. society cannot affort to continue to let morons, illiterates, and parasites to vote. As was said, too much democracy, will kill the social conditions that make a functioning democracy possible.

  • Kris

    WigWag, I agree with you that quite a lot of the blame (responsibility) can be laid on parents. But that of course raises the question: if schools accomplish so little, why are we spending so much on them?

    Tom, as a perhaps unwelcome buttress to your point: Ed schools tend to have shockingly low entrance requirements. This would seem to imply that they cannot get a sufficient number of qualified applicants. (Obligatory disclaimer: there are, of course, many talented and devoted techers out there.)

  • annabellep

    There would be no teacher’s shortage at all, and we could get a much bigger pool of potential teachers if we did away with the silly notion that “education degrees” were the only degrees that allowed one to teach. We’ve locked out a significant number of the workforce with this silly rule and lost much in subject competency.

    I’m here, willing and able, and believe it or not, would prefer an inner city teaching job. I have a bachelor degree in English. I can’t get hired because I don’t have an “education degree.” I could get one in 18 months for $10,000 more dollars if I could afford it (I can’t), but I would just have to follow it up with another 18 month master’s degree program and another $10,000 to keep my certification. It’s a racket.

    Let talented people teach and break the unions, and half our problems in education disappear.

  • The gold digger

    Annabellep, You are so right. I have tried to find out what my husband, an electrical engineer of 25 years who was a physics grader and a chemistry tutor in college, would have to do to become a high school math or physics teacher. I can’t find the exact requirements – Wisconsin apparently does not have set standards – but whatever it is, he would have to return to school for a while. At the high school level, shouldn’t we be concerned about having teachers who know the material more than about teachers who know how to make sure kindergartners are playing together properly?

    There would be no teacher shortage (not that there is – 700 applicants per position in WI recently) if professionals could transition to teaching easily.

  • XTeacher

    I doubt the path for fast track teacher certificationfor people already holding degrees is as gloomy as
    annabellep and The gold digger state. Try Teach for America- but it is difficult to get in.

    I would suggest that prospective teachers try substitute teaching for a while.

  • Themistocles

    Government ‘education’ is the problem. The free market is the solution. Everything else i self-serving opportunism.

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