Jim Epstein on How Unions Infantilize Teachers

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) |||

As New York City's one million public school students head back to class today, the system's 88,576 teachers have a new contract for the first time since 2009.

Our nation's educators are treated like "interchangeable blue-collar workers doing blue-collar work," writes Marc Tucker in a recent report titled, Fixing our National Accountability System, which was published last month and has been drawing attention in education reform circles. Tucker fingers our "test based accountability system" for reducing teachers' contributions to a letter or number grade. "Imagine what a good doctor would think," Tucker writes, if "publicly branded with an A, B or C grade by some external authority."

There's some merit to Tucker's case, Jim Epstein writes, but there's a far bigger culprit in the teaching profession's diminished status that he ignores: Collective bargaining agreements, such as New York City's new teachers contract, that treat educators like children.