Common Sense: Institutional Racism of Public Education
By: Brent Regan
“Each new generation born is in effect an invasion of civilization by little barbarians, who must be civilized before it is too late.” – Thomas Sowell
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked, “Who is the most dangerous person in the world?” Was his answer China’s Xi Jinping? North Korea’s Kim Jong-un? Russia’s Vladimir Putin? No.
The man whose full time job was to figure out this exact thing, says the most dangerous person in the world is Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
Stop. Before you say, “It’s for the children,” know that he was not talking about teachers. Most teachers are skilled professional educators whose primary motivation is to provide the best education possible. Pompeo was talking about union boss Weingarten who does not concern herself with education because education is the teacher’s job, not the union’s job.
The primary purpose of all unions is to promote their members so their members can pay their union dues. Union leaders freely admit that, “Ultimately, we seek to build power…and increase membership.” For them ‘it’s the power, stupid.’
The constitution of the American Federation of Teachers union gives little mention of the quality of the instruction provided. Article II of the AFT’s 34 page constitution lists 13 objectives with only one touching on education. The education objective, “To encourage the hiring and retention of competent teachers, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel…to enable their students to equip themselves better to take their places in the economic, social and political life of the community,” could have been penned by Karl Marx.
Their objective is to make students “better equipped.” By this standard, if after 14 years of classes the student learns just one thing, then it is “Mission Accomplished.” Their goal isn’t excellence, or even good. Their education goal is just “better” so that students can take their assigned place in life.
When challenged, union leaders will claim your questions are hateful as they wrap themselves in a human shield of students and teachers. They are quick to remind you that they have your children so you better get your mind right or you’re just a hater who hates kids and teachers.
Any system of government, business, manufacturing, or public institution will tend to do what it was built to do. Not what it was imagined to do and not what you want it to do. It will do what it was intrinsically designed to do. Understanding how the system works will enlighten you to what the system will produce.
What are teachers’ unions designed to do? Survive and grow. Survive by ensuring the continued employment of their members and grow by adding members and increasing their salaries.
In their mission, teacher unions shun any form of meritocracy and instead use seniority to establish hierarchy. Pay is a function of time, not performance. If all the employees at particular seniority strata are paid the same regardless of ability then some are underpaid and some are overpaid.
Underpaid teachers are then ones with higher than average skills who could make more money by working at private schools and not paying union dues.
Overpaid teachers are the below average teachers who rely on the union to preserve their income. They gladly pay their union dues because the benefits outweigh the cost. Below average teachers are therefore loyal to, and support, the union. This loyalty makes these teachers the union’s preferred members.
Laws concerning public schools mandate that every student must be served. Proficient students require little additional help while poorly performing students need a plethora of services, tutors, and specialists. Unions are advantaged by poorly performing students because this grows membership in the union.
Logic tells us that teacher unions cause schools to accumulate below average teachers and cultivate under-performing students. Not by intent but because that is how the system is built. This explains what we have been witnessing for the last 50 years and why private and charter schools get better results with less funding and why bad schools in minority neighborhoods only seem to get worse.
Even though public sector teachers unions are not expressly racist, the result of their perverse incentives looks exactly like Institutional Racism. It is an observable fact that even though it may not be intentional, poor and minority students are disadvantaged by the existence of the AFT and the NEA.
Without meritocracy and competition our public schools stagnate. Poor performing schools in minority neighborhoods deny students the one thing that can lift them from poverty, a quality education. All students suffer from the union’s quest for power, but minority students suffer the most. This problem is structural and money won’t cure it.
This is what Mike Pompeo recognized as the greatest danger to the world: union induced institutional racism of a failing education system. This is the greatest threat to the future of our world.
It’s just common sense.
Brent Regan is chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, Chairman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s Board of Directors, and a Mad Scientist and Inventor.