In what might be called an expression of the new spirit of transparency that is sweeping the globe, two documentaries came out in 2010, "The Lottery" and "Waiting for Superman." Both were made by and featured people who are largely liberal in their sympathies, and both said the same brave thing: The single biggest impediment to better schools in our country is the teachers unions, which look to their own interests and not those of the kids.
In both films, as in real life, the problem is the unions themselves, not individual teachers. They present teachers who are heroic, who are creative and idealistic. But they too, in the films, are victims of union rules.
Unions have been respected in America forever, and public-employee unions have reaped that respect. There are two great reasons for this. One is that unions always stood for the little guy. The other is that Americans like balance. We have management over here and the union over here, they'll talk and find balance, it'll turn out fine.
But with the public-employee unions, the balance has been off for decades. And when they lost their balance they fell off their pedestal.
When union leaders negotiate with a politician, they're negotiating with someone they can hire and fire. Public unions have numbers and money, and politicians need both. When governors negotiate with unions, it's not collective bargaining, it's more like collusion. Someone said last week the taxpayers aren't at the table. The taxpayers aren't even in the room.