Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009 | I am pleased to see that business people have a renewed interest in the state of public schools, according to Emily Alpert‘s story. Everyone getting involved and working together for the benefit of the kids can be a very good thing.

It is endlessly amusing to me that some people are concerned that teachers may gain “too much” control over school policy decisions — as if that would be a bad thing.

I guess it would be like physicians gaining control over hospital health standards, or engineers gaining control over engineering firms, or scientists setting clinical policy for pharmaceutical companies. Oh, in those professions the credentialed experts are a good thing but not in education?

Of course, the underlying bias is not about teachers, it is about teacher unions, as if somehow they are separable. Teachers — starting at each school site — elect their representatives who in turn elect their leaders and teachers alone make the policy decisions for their unions.

If one starts with the premise that unions are bad, per se, then the inevitable conclusion is that teachers should not have an organized voice in the debate. Which, of course, is an ideal situation if you want a centralized command and control philosophy for your schools. If so, perhaps Mr. Bersin can be recruited back to start this dance once again. Alternatively, business leaders might sit down with teacher leaders — yes, that means actually talking with their elected union representatives — and find out how they can work together for the benefit of the children and our entire community.

P.S. For purposes of disclosure, teacher unions have been among my clients for many years, but are not now clients and I write on my own behalf.

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