- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 18, 2003

If you have a child in public school, you need to read "The Worm in the Apple: How the Teachers Unions Are Destroying American Education," a new book by Peter Brimelow.
Public schools are run by the National Educational Association. They are not run by people you can hold accountable, such as teachers, superintendents and school boards. The NEA opposes merit pay, charter schools, and any decision by any school administrator that has not been determined in advance by collective bargaining. Simply put, the NEA opposes everything except its own power.
In Connecticut the teachers union filed a grievance demanding pay for an extra 2 minutes a week that the union claimed teachers worked. In Pennsylvania, a grievance was filed because coffee and doughnuts were not provided during a teacher training day. Jaime Escalante, a teacher whose extraordinary success in teaching calculus to inner-city Hispanics resulted in a Hollywood movie, was run out of his California school district by the teachers union.
Mr. Escalante, it seems, violated union rules by complaining about teachers who used the teachers' lounge as a real estate office and called in sick to extend their weekends. A high school principal who requested that teachers write daily objectives on the classroom board was denounced by the union as a "draconian zealot."
Meanwhile, kids aren't learning. The vocabulary of the average American 14-year-old has dropped from 25,000 words to 10,000. San Francisco Examiner reporter Emily Gurnon asked teenagers to identify the country from which America won its independence. Among the answers: "Japan or something, China. Somewhere out there on the other side of the world." "It wouldn't be Canada, would it?" "I don't know; I don't even, like, have a clue." "I want to say Korea. I'm tripping."
Mr. Brimelow next introduces the teachers. Sara Boyd, a recipient of many awards and accolades during her teaching career experienced difficulty passing a mathematics competency test. She sued the state of California, claiming the test was racially discriminatory. But at her deposition she was unable to answer the question: "What percent of 80 is 8?"
Teachers can't teach because the union won't let them. Perhaps it is just as well. Here are some course listings in the education department at the University of Massachusetts: Embracing Diversity, Diversity and Change, Oppression and Education, Introduction to Multicultural Education, Black Identity, Classism, Racism, Sexism, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Oppression, Jewish Oppression, Oppression of the Disabled, Erroneous Beliefs.
Schools of education have turned teachers into agents of the therapeutic state, a new form of government analyzed by Paul Gottfried in his recent book, "Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt." Indoctrination and social reconstruction have replaced the traditional emphasis on reading, writing and arithmetic.
When you can stop laughing or crying, pay attention. Mr. Brimelow is serious. He knows the NEA inside out. But the media do not. Mr. Brimelow has a chapter describing how the NEA bribes the media for favorable stories by handing out "media awards." The Dallas Morning News won three awards for promoting a trip by area teachers to the state capital to lobby for money for teachers raises.
In 2000, when NEA delegates voted to strengthen their policy against merit pay for teachers, the Associated Press reported the opposite. Newspapers across the country then editorialized on the basis of the erroneous AP report.
The problem, says Mr. Brimelow, is that the NEA is the backbone of the Democratic Party and public education is a government monopoly. Mr. Brimelow asks V.I. Lenin's question, "What Is To Be Done?" and replies with 24 reforms.
One senses Mr. Brimelow believes reform has little hope when it is opposed by NEA lobbying. If the NEA is to be undone, its undoing will come from parents and teachers deserting the schools. Homeschoolers, without benefit of fancy facilities, science labs, and huge expenditures of money, outscore public school students.
Teachers themselves are dropping out, demoralized by lack of professionalism, chaos and crumbling educational standards. As readers recently pointed out to me, teachers are being imported from India and other Third World countries under the H-1B visa program to take the jobs American teachers are abandoning.
Mr. Brimelow uses the wrong tense when he writes "the teacher unions are destroying American education." They have destroyed it.

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