A “million march” rally of about 8,000 members of teachers unions gathered last week in Washington to protest cuts in government spending, lower taxes, and capitalist greed. The rally may have been unimpressive in numbers, but it was made newsworthy by the presence of some celebrities like the actor Matt Damon, the educator and writer Deborah Meier, and the activist Jonathan Kozol.
Watching the report by Reason TV, and listening to the opinions of those union members and celebrities, we can learn for sure what the real problem in our education today is. It isn’t the fact that the teachers are protected for life; nor it is that the children don’t learn. Nor is it that there is too much spending for too little results. The problem is: Money.
Money, that is, if private business creates schools in order to make money. That would be awful, and really destructive for our education, the participants claim. Real good education can’t be based on money. It must be based on selfless public service.
Deborah Meier, a vocal activist against capitalism and a highly acclaimed educator in the liberal and socialist circles for her innovative idea of small schools movement (supported by taxes, of course), says in response to a question: “This is where I differ from the libertarians . . . I know about the corruption of money.”
I bet she does. Her newest book, Playing for Keeps, 144 pages paperback – a booklet by the standards of some of us – is sold on Amazon for $19.95. (To compare, the book by the greedy, money-driven capitalist Lee Iacocca, Where Have All the Leaders Gone, 272 pages, sells for $15.00.) Meier doesn’t offer it for free to everyone, she wants the money. Given her knowledge about the “corruption of money,” one would think she’d be offering her books for free so that she would help education with her ideas free from the corrupting power of money.
A union member, when asked about competition in higher education, replies, “It is a money-making operation, right? I don’t want this for the high schools.”
A separation of money and school, apparently, is the solution. Then what’s the point of the protest? No one stops the teachers from teaching kids at no cost, after all. If no money is needed, educate as much as you want, as a selfless service to the society.
Well, may be money is important, after all. “No cuts,” a sign says, meaning no cuts in money support for education. And to make it clear, a union member exclaims, “How much is a child’s education worth? Billions.” The reporter is taken aback, “A billion dollars per student?” The answer is quick: “Sure, why not.”
In other words, private business can’t make millions from offering education, because that would be greed, and disastrous for education. But teachers unions should make billions per student, taken in taxes from everyone else, and that is selfless public service. The true battle cry of all unions: “Don’t be greedy, give us your money.” Money paid by parents voluntarily to private schools for education are “destructive”; money extracted by government compulsion from everyone in the society to pay public schools teachers “a billion dollars per student” is OK.
So, does anyone still believe teachers unions care about education at all?