I recommend everyone see this movie and decide for themselves.
I don’t know if it will have this effect on everyone, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I saw it. For me, seeing this movie was one of those experiences that divide your life into the part before it happened, and the part after.
I don’t think the effect was quite so profound on me, as I had already come to some conclusions about the state of public education and the underlying political dynamics, but certainly the movie is an eye-opening experience and likely to be profound for many people. One out of every 60 doctors loses their medical license. But due to the very strong union protections enjoyed by teachers, only one out of 2500 teachers ever loses their teaching credentials. Forty times as many doctors are disciplined by their profession as teachers are. The movie is damning: most school districts across the United States have NEVER fired a teacher for incompetence. Not a single one. Either teachers are 100% perfect, or the collective agreements make it simply impossible to fire teachers no matter how bad their performance. Which is more likely to be true?
I don’t even want to get started about the political undercurrents. In the U.S., the Democrats are the official union party. In Canada, it’s the NDP. What this means, unfortunately, is that that party is reflexively pro-union (protecting its donation source), even when it shouldn’t be, and the other parties are reflexively anti-union (trying to hurt the other party’s donation source), even when they shouldn’t be. It’s all about the adults and their power, and neither side cares much about actual educational outcomes, only about maintaining (or damaging) the stream of money flowing from union member dues to political campaign accounts.
The move won immediate support from the Washington Teachers Union, which long has battled Rhee. “I think leaving sooner is better than later, so there will not be all this speculation,” union head George Parker said.
And the kids are the losers, of course.