EppsNet Archive: Unions

Teaching Computer Science: Priorities

When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren. — Albert Shanker, President of the United Federation of Teachers (1964-1984) and President of the American Federation of Teachers (1974-1997) It’s a problem in my profession that the number of schools that want to teach computer science far exceeds the number of computer science majors who want to teach computer science. The opportunity cost is too high. Computer science majors can earn a lot more working as software engineers than working as teachers. I volunteer a couple mornings a week to help with computer science instruction at a local high school. This school has a teacher, originally hired as a math teacher, who must be well into her fourth decade of teaching.  She now teaches computer science classes — poorly, but she teaches them. Because of her professional longevity, she makes a six-figure income with… Read more →

The Interests of Schoolchildren

More than 30,000 teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) went on strike this week. LAUSD serves 640,000 students and is the second biggest school district in the country. The mean annual wage for LAUSD teachers is $75,000. In the local reporting I’m seeing on the strike, teachers and union reps are unanimous in saying that they’re striking for the benefit of the schoolchildren. I’m reminded of something Albert Shanker — former president of the United Federation of Teachers (1964-1984) and the American Federation of Teachers (1974-1997) — used to say: When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren. I can’t say for certain that the LA union reps are being disingenuous but it does make sense that they’d be representing the interests of the people who are paying them. Read more →

Generalists Are Better Than Specialists

People ask me what is my “specialty” in software development. My specialty, if I have one, is in not having a specialty. I feel like I can contribute on any task. That answer throws people off. They repeat the question, explaining that everyone is best at something. Managers especially like the idea of specialists because it simplifies the assignment of work: UI tasks go to the UI guys (or gals), SQL tasks go to the SQL guys, middle-tier tasks go to the middle-tier guys, and so on. Before launching my illustrious career in software development, I worked on a union construction site. Everyone’s job was defined in excruciating detail — what each union member could and couldn’t do. For example, if we needed to move a pallet from here to there, we had to find a teamster to drive the forklift. There were a few exceptions to that rule, depending… Read more →

More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of: Paul Krugman

America in the 1950s made the rich pay their fair share; it gave workers the power to bargain for decent wages and benefits; yet contrary to right-wing propaganda then and now, it prospered. And we can do that again. — Paul Krugman I hardly know where to begin with this . . . First of all, what is the relevance of the 1950s as opposed to any other period of American history? America prior to 1913 had no permanent income tax and contrary to left-wing propaganda, it prospered. Why can’t we do that again? Of course we’re all in favor of fairness — right? — but why is it only important that “the rich” pay their “fair share”? I don’t remember ever hearing anyone, certainly not Krugman, use the phrase “pay their fair share” in reference to any group except “the rich.” If you’re concerned about fairness, isn’t it also… Read more →

The Obama Bounce Fades

And through it all, there is no presidential leadership. He’s too busy raising money to run ads so he can tell us what a great leader he is. Everywhere we see, in ruins, Obama’s plans for our country. His foreign policy has encouraged revolutions that have brought our worst enemies to power in the Middle East . . . His education reforms have no teeth and he sits by passively as they are challenged by his own local teachers union. Credit much of the quick end to his bounce to Romney’s ads which, right off the bat after the Democratic Convention closed, rapped Obama for trying to convince us that we are better off than we were four years ago. Obama’s campaign essentially poses the question: What will you believe — your own eyes or my speeches? — Dick Morris Read more →

This Explains a Lot

When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren. — Albert Shanker, President of the United Federation of Teachers (1964-1984) and President of the American Federation of Teachers (1974-1997) Read more →

Wisconsin’s Smoking Gun

If you cut the pay of an overpaid worker, he’ll generally scream bloody murder. After all, overpaid workers like to stay overpaid. But if you cut the pay of a non-overpaid worker, you haven’t really damaged him. He just quietly leaves and gets a job elsewhere. After all, the ability to find a comparable job elsewhere is pretty much the definition of not being overpaid. Now how are the Wisconsin public workers reacting to projected pay and/or benefit cuts? As if the rug’s been pulled out from under them, that’s how. Every time a worker says “These cuts will cause me severe pain,” that worker is saying, in effect, “I can’t get anyone else to pay me at the level I’m accustomed to,” or, in briefer words, “I am overpaid!” So yes, they’re overpaid. And the louder they get, the surer you can be. — Steven Landsburg Read more →

Orwell in Wisconsin

On Saturday, February 26th, Americans in all 50 states rallied to show solidarity with the people of Wisconsin, and to save the American Dream. — MoveOn.Org Ha ha — George Orwell couldn’t have said it better! MoveOn.org doesn’t stand with the people of Wisconsin, they stand with the people trying to rip off the people of Wisconsin. Union-elected legislators provide sweet contracts for public-sector unions, who in turn kick back a share of the money to the legislators. Government employees take both sides of the action and the tax-paying fools who pay for everything are not represented at all. That’s the American Dream? Read more →

Union Sundown

Wisconsin public schools are among the lowest performing in the country. So it makes sense to me that this is one of the first teacher’s unions to get dissolved. And, this is a great example of how a union has outlasted its usefulness to the community. — Penelope Trunk Read more →

We Are All Wisconsiners Now!

Wisconsin has figured out a way to get all of its Democratic legislators to flee the state without so much as a BRB. How can we expand this nationwide? Elected officials hiding out in undisclosed locations to prevent a quorum should wake everyone up to the extent to which public employee unions control our political destiny. I have three words for the “sick” teachers in Wisconsin: Air Traffic Controllers. We live in a top-notch school district in Irvine but it’s not because the teachers are so great. It’s the effort of the kids and the support of their families. Even in a good district, the teachers are very replaceable. You’ll have to take my word for it but I could easily teach English, math or computer science at the high school level, even though I’m not government-certified to do so, and there are plenty of people in Wisconsin who could… Read more →

The Democratic Party

The Democratic Party is really a synthesis of environmentalists and peace advocates with a few gay rights activists and public employee unions thrown in. — Dick Morris Read more →

Teachers Unions

In our biggest school systems, it’s become virtually impossible to fight the teachers unions and fire bad teachers. The giant Los Angeles Unified school system, with 33,000 teachers, fires only about 21 a year, or fewer than 1 in 1,000, according to the findings of an L.A. Times investigation. Now either Los Angeles has the greatest teachers in the world or something is very wrong. Talk to parents and you’ll know the answer. — Mickey Kaus Read more →