Others say why Wisconsin matters

In this essay to CNN, historian Diane Ravitch explains why the Madison rallies are “symptomatic of a simmering rage among the nation’s teachers. They have grown angry and demoralized over the past two years as attacks on their profession escalated.”

If you don’t have time to read the whole essay, here’s five sentences.

Unions actively lobby to increase education funding and reduce class size, so conservative governors who want to slash education spending feel the need to reduce their clout. This silences the best organized opposition to education cuts.

There has recently been a national furor about school reform. One must wonder how it is possible to talk of improving schools while cutting funding, demoralizing teachers, cutting scholarships to college, and increasing class sizes.

The real story in Madison is not just about unions trying to protect their members’ hard-won rights. It is about teachers who are fed up with attacks on their profession.

Then there’s Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times.

…it’s not about the budget; it’s about the power. In principle, every American citizen has an equal say in our political process. In practice, of course, some of us are more equal than others. Billionaires can field armies of lobbyists; they can finance think tanks that put the desired spin on policy issues; they can funnel cash to politicians with sympathetic views (as the Koch brothers did in the case of Mr. Walker). On paper, we’re a one-person-one-vote nation; in reality, we’re more than a bit of an oligarchy, in which a handful of wealthy people dominate.

Given this reality, it’s important to have institutions that can act as counterweights to the power of big money. And unions are among the most important of these institutions.

You don’t have to love unions, you don’t have to believe that their policy positions are always right, to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy. Indeed, if America has become more oligarchic and less democratic over the last 30 years — which it has — that’s to an important extent due to the decline of private-sector unions.

And now Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to get rid of public-sector unions, too.

Third, there’s Andy Stern, retired union leader, writing for The Daily Beast.

There’s much more.

Tags: ,

One Comment

  1. Don Carlisto February 22, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    More from Diane Ravitch: “I Stand with the Teachers of Wisconsin”- http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/

Post Comment