The Deep Logic of the Chicago Teachers Strike or, The Truth Behind Teachers Unions

For the past week, public school teachers in Chicago, one of the nation's largest school districts, were on strike. Despite a proposed contract that would have given an average 16 percent raise over four years, the teachers rejected granting principals more hiring autonomy and weighing student performance more heavily in evaluations. As news hits that a new deal is being struck, it's worth taking a look at the deeper dynamics of K-12 public education, a system whose weakest participants - students - are the very people the system is supposed to serve.

Watch "The Machine," a co-production of the Moving Picture Institute and Reason TV, which was originally released on September 4, 2012.

Here's the original writeup:

America's public education system is failing. We're spending more money on education but not getting better results for our children. 

That's because the machine that runs the K-12 education system isn't designed to produce better schools. It's designed to produce more money for unions and more donations for politicians.

For decades, teachers' unions have been among our nation's largest political donors. As Reason Foundation's Lisa Snell has noted, the National Education Association (NEA) alonespent $40 million on the 2010 election cycle. As the country's largest teachers union, the NEA is only one cog in the infernal machine that robs parents of their tax dollars and students of their futures.

Students, teachers, parents, and hardworking Americans are all victims of this political machine--a system that takes money out of taxpayers' wallets and gives it to union bosses, who put it in the pockets of politicians. 

Our kids deserve better.

"The Machine" is 4:17 minutes.

Produced by the Moving Picture Institute in partnership with Reason TV.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I liked this better the first time I saw it, as the title sequence for HBO's Carnivale. And by better I mean worse.

    Why is the Moving Picture Institute against better schools? (I already know why reason is. They hate the poor and children have little money.)

  • ||

    Their motto is "Promoting freedom through film". It must hate the poor and children too.

  • Marshall Gill||

    In the Chinese Cultural Revolution didn't they kill all or many of the teachers?

    Mmmm, Cultural Revolution.

  • ||

    You're approaching Godwin territory there.

  • Pro Libertate||

    You know, it's going to be Mike's fault if the U.S. goes fascist, because his law won't allow people to note the transformation.

  • Marshall Gill||

    You're approaching Godwin territory there.

    About as close as one can come without actually going there, I would think.

  • KPres||

    Ironically, not being allowed to mention Hitler in conversation has a pretty fascist feel to it.

  • juris imprudent||

    Look Godwin wasn't talking about discussions were Hitler was a natural component.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Schools are incredibly backwards. They've hardly changed in 40 years, and the changes are largely cosmetic. In some ways they have gone backwards. At least we were allowed to have books, but these days many schools don't allow kids to take them home, and they don't provide digital alternatives. The kids carry far greater technology in their pockets than the schools have available.

    Only a small percentage of teachers are actually capable of holding a student's attention to teach difficult subjects like math, science, or language. With today's technology, why are the great teachers limited to teaching 30 students at a time? It's ridiculous.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Spot on with one change.

    Schools are incredibly backwards. They've hardly changed in 40 more than one hundred years,

  • sloopyinca||

    Hey, that was when the constitution was written!

    /Ezra Klein

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    I also highly recommend "The Cartel" and "Waiting for Superman", although the 2nd one is more statist.

  • sloopyinca||

    If I wanted to know how the teachers union operates, I'd watch Dog Day Afternoon or The Great Train Robbery.

    If I want to understand their mindset, I'd watch It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

  • califernian||

    There is a natural limit to how much money can be taken from the working class to give to the government class. We are pretty much at that limit right now and that's why we're seeing incremental pullback from the leviathan.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    I do not see any evidence of pull back on a societal level. For every newly minted libertarian we get three socialist dorks who think the problem is capitalism.

  • منتدى||

    nice topic


    I'm a teacher in Miami and the teacher's union is completely voluntary. I'm not a member and so I don't pay any dues. Unless Chicago is different, the video is totally misleading.

  • BMFPitt||

    Complete lack of Pink Floyd in that video.

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