A Teachable Moment

Former local teacher union pesident Morty Rosenfeld periodically attempts to make sense of the increasingly senseless world of public education.

Preparing Teachers to Be Union

Why isn’t a course in working in a union environment a part of every college teacher preparatory program in the United States? If our colleges and universities are bastions of ultra-left politics, how can it be that by and large new entrants to the teaching profession come with little or no knowledge of either the contributions of the union movement to the teaching profession or the rights and responsibilities of being a union member?

A million years ago, I had some business with the dean of one of the schools of education of one of our local Long Island universities. After finishing my business, I asked her these same questions, hoping to stimulate her interest in starting such a course. Most of her school’s graduates would get jobs in union districts in the area, many in places that pioneered teacher collective bargaining. Wasn’t it the responsibility of the university to prepare students for the conditions under which they were going to work? At the time, my own district was in a bargaining crisis with a “no contract, no work” vote of the membership scheduled for implementation in September.

The dean responded to my questions with exactly what I expected. It was not the responsibility of the university to advance the cause of unionism. Students were free to make up their own minds about union membership. No matter what I said, even offering to teach the course as a demonstration for free, she obdurately maintained that such a course had no place in a teacher preparation program. When one thinks of the meaningless drivel that makes up most ed courses, the dean’s response to my questions is astounding. Yet, her ideas continue to be mainstream. Why?

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