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Why are teachers striking over slavery? California's unions prioritise progressivism over fair pay

A protest outside a school in Oakland (Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)

A protest outside a school in Oakland (Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)


June 3, 2023   7 mins

In 2019, my children’s teachers went on strike for higher pay, and I supported it, which was a bit of a surprise. I’d always thought public-sector unions a mockery of the idea of organised labour — not workers bargaining for a larger share of the value they create, but bureaucrats extracting rents from taxpayers, via politicians. On top of this, I’d trained to be an English teacher. I saw up close the pathetic scholarship and inane doctrines that inform teacher education in American universities. To me, unionised teachers were a convergence of these two unhealthy forces.

But then my wife and I had kids in the expensive California city of Oakland, and we sent them to our local government school (“public” school, in the US). I saw that, rather than applying dubious theories from their training — “child-centred” teaching inspired by John Dewey, Paulo Freire’s “pedagogy of the oppressed” — teachers were mainly using age-old methods to convey mandated curriculum to restless children. And I learned that many of them, especially younger teachers without spouses, or divorced teachers raising children of their own, were sharing bedrooms in group houses to cut down on living expenses, commuting huge distances from more affordable cities, or even working second jobs.

I was also seeing research showing that the skill of individual teachers was a key variable in both the subject learning and life outcomes of students. I decided to think of our local teachers’ unions as a sort of guild, securing a measure of agency and public dignity and better pay for members of a maligned profession, which might help schools attract talented people to their classrooms, and keep them there. In any case, we were part of the same community now, working together to see our kids through their school years. Some of us — the teachers — needed better pay to have decent lives. Their 2019 strike thus seemed pretty defensible. Despite the learning it interrupted and the inconvenience it caused us, no one in my world of school parents opposed it.

We parents aren’t feeling so communal about the Oakland teachers’ strike of 2023. The strike, which ran from 5 May to 15 May, wasn’t about the thing we were used to feeling invested in and guilty about — teachers’ pay. The parties (the teachers’ union and the Oakland school district) were close to agreement on a pay increase when the strike was called. What they continued to disagree on was a set of broad demands that, the union said, it was making on behalf of the “common good”.

These demands sounded like an odd fit within a contract negotiation. Our kids had been kept home from school not because teachers were being ill-paid or disrespectfully treated, but because the leaders of their union had some theories about homelessness, social welfare, climate change and, of course, racism, along with some conspicuously swollen ambitions about how much policymaking power they might wrest from elected officials.

The two most newsworthy of the union’s demands, and the most noteworthy to parents wondering how long their kids would be out of school, concerned racial reparations and environmental justice. From what we were hearing, the teachers wouldn’t return to work until our schools were remade into places where racial reparations are paid out and environmental justice is finally done.

The “reparations” demand is, at once, confusing and revealing. It’s confusing because, in its details, it doesn’t mean what Americans think of when they think of racial reparations. It’s revealing because it shows the teachers’ union going the way of other progressive organisations in recent years. Instead of protecting the material and professional interests of our beloved teachers, the activist leaders of their union have taken up a new mission — impressing each other with radical gestures.

What the term “reparations” signifies in the United States is a tough national reckoning with the moral, material, legal and political injustice of slavery, in the form of generous payouts to black Americans. As a political issue, it is profoundly unresolved. But what the teachers’ union calls racial reparations is, along with a proposal to let homeless students live in empty school buildings, the most palatable part of its common-good vision. What the union means by reparations — according to a detailed description of its common-good demands, which it published in December — is that the school district would turn schools with large black populations into “Black thriving community schools”, where food, healthcare and other social services are provided to needy families.

Now, the idea of community schools is an old one in education circles. If it turned out that such schools were an effective way to educate poor children and deliver social services to their families, Oakland parents would probably support them, even given the racially specific framing of “Black thriving” (though we’d still object to using them as a reason to hold a teacher strike). We recognise that the overlap between black and poor populations in our city is large. And the fact that politics in Oakland — birthplace of the Black Panthers — is always also racial politics, is a shock to no one who lives here. Indeed, the vernacular rawness and bluntness of Oakland’s racial politics is one of the many things I found refreshing about the city when I moved here in 2004. Feeling all my arguments from “colour blindness” fall away was both a settling-in and a liberation. I lived in Oakland now.

In this context, casting the “Black thriving community schools” proposal as reparations is almost perversely divisive, especially for a teacher organisation ostensibly dependent on the support of parents, including non-black, politically moderate parents. In conversations about the strike I had with such parents, the word came up several times as a bemused question: “Reparations?”

To Americans, “reparations” conjures political scenarios of endless accusation and evasion, anger and resentment and guilt chasing each other in a circle, a titanic policy debate that will never end because it never really starts. This total impasse of national deliberation is not what parents want to imagine as a sticking point in the contract negotiation that’s keeping their kids home from school. And it really wasn’t. “Reparations” was just a word they chose.

But why would our embattled teachers’ union package its proposal for community schools — already ambitious, as both power-grab and policy, but not without its moral appeal — in the divisive and discouraging language of reparations? Why would it risk the support of parents by seeming to foist on them a sudden resolution of the great American racial reckoning, from the private setting of a contract negotiation, when what they were really proposing was feeding poor families and letting them see a nurse at their kids’ school?

I wasn’t present when the union forged this document, so I can’t say for sure. But I have a theory. Activists within the teachers’ union chose the language of reparations not for its denotative accuracy, nor for the crucial support it might add to its negotiating position, both of which it subverts, but to impress each other and challenge – and, perhaps even, cow — their less fervent colleagues.

We’ve watched this pattern repeat itself, especially since the George Floyd protests of 2020: organisations dominated in their leadership by a core of activists, or highly sensitive to the sort of problematic publicity that activists can generate for them, having their historic missions erased and rewritten according to the internal dynamics of progressive cadres — pathological status contests in which no one wants to appear less extreme than the most extreme person.

In these settings, terms such as “reparations” work as memes, easily permeating a symbolic system that offers very little friction or resistance to their movement. This is surely why the union’s list of common-good demands includes other terms that are faddish in progressive circles, but entirely outside either the real classroom mission of school teachers or the proper negotiating brief of a teachers’ union, nor particularly accurate as names for what the teachers were actually seeking.

Under the politically exciting term “environmental justice” — another red flag for parents worried their teachers were taking on messy fights that would keep their kids out of school — the union demanded that “all student learning areas […] be independently climate controlled, ventilated and weatherised using safe and green technologies”. So, what our striking teachers meant by the provocative and pragmatically fraught term “environmental justice” was… air conditioning

When we parents learnt that our teachers were in fact striking over massive and intractable societal problems, we were perhaps justified in wondering how such a strike could possibly end. The teachers weren’t willing to budge on their “equity” demands. Rumours circulated that the school year was over. Summer would be starting a month early. Few of us knew what was really at stake. We’d only heard the news stories, which dealt in generalities. We hadn’t read the online documents that said reparations for slavery meant meals and medical checkups at some schools, and environmental justice meant better insulation and stronger fans in classrooms.

Still, the teachers did stage a strike, and the strike was about a set of grievances so novel and abstract it’s hard to understand them as grievances. Now that the strike is over, the union’s ostensible grievances seem more like plans. They certainly have some big ideas about how the schools, indeed the city, ought to be run. And they seem willing to strike again if our actually elected officials don’t do as they wish, or hand them the power to do it themselves.

On their own, in their scale and reach, these novel and ambitious plans violate the implicit agreement that parents make with their unionised teachers, whose work-stoppages they support and even encourage, despite the expense and inconvenience and learning-loss they result in. We parents do this on the grounds that teachers are joined with us in an educational project that is no less urgent or dignified for being confined to the teaching of humble things like reading and maths, which requires good teachers who are paid well, and which the schools find hard enough already.

More alienating is the strong sense that these plans emerged from a hermetic and vaguely unhealthy process, an esoteric set of deliberative pressures peculiar to progressive “spaces”, as these spaces have been rewired in recent years. It will be an ominous feeling for Oakland parents, as the term for the new contract moves toward another crisis of negotiation, to know that the future design of their public schools, and their future ability to send their kids to them, could be determined by a further set of ideological gambits by progressive activists — and by the larger number of people who will go along with them, no matter how crazy they sound.


Matt Feeney is an writer based in California and the author of Little Platoons: A defense of family in a competitive age


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Peter D
PD
Peter D
10 months ago

Reparations = Extortion
Those responsible for paying the reparations are never the actual perpetrators.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter D

Reparations = Shakedown = giving money to people who were never slaves from people who never owned slaves. It’s lunacy writ very large indeed.

William Jackson
WJ
William Jackson
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter D

Those receiving the ‘reparations” are rarely the actual ‘victims’.

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter D

Reparations = Shakedown = giving money to people who were never slaves from people who never owned slaves. It’s lunacy writ very large indeed.

William Jackson
WJ
William Jackson
10 months ago
Reply to  Peter D

Those receiving the ‘reparations” are rarely the actual ‘victims’.

Peter D
PD
Peter D
10 months ago

Reparations = Extortion
Those responsible for paying the reparations are never the actual perpetrators.

Max Price
MP
Max Price
10 months ago

Well Western Civilisation had a good run. I’m glad I wont be here to experience the coming dark age.

Last edited 10 months ago by Max Price
polidori redux
PR
polidori redux
10 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

It is coming sooner than you think!

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

That’s the trouble. And if people imagine that their old age will be in any way bearable in the “dark”, they should think again. There is no alternative to doing whatever we can to fight back – not going along with rubbish in the workplace, not paying for current theatrical or cinematic productions, voting tactically to prevent the leading lights of the left from gaining untrammelled power, elaborating and explaining our position whenever we can – and so forth. It may simply serve to slow the imposition of nonsense, but anything which keeps the few spots of light in this Marx-maddened west from going out will help.

Max Price
Max Price
10 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I’m resigned to seeing the start; I’m happy I won’t be here when the full reality of the progressive vision is manifest.

polidori redux
PR
polidori redux
10 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

Cheer up fella!
I’m an optimist – The crash will be swift and brutal and we might see the first signs of a new spring.

Richard Aston
RA
Richard Aston
10 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

yep I am with you on looking out for the new spring, out of the ashes and all that.

Richard Aston
RA
Richard Aston
10 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

yep I am with you on looking out for the new spring, out of the ashes and all that.

David Thomas
David Thomas
9 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

If you want to see that full reality writ large, just come here to the People’s Republic of San Francisco. An Asylum run by the inmates.

polidori redux
polidori redux
10 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

Cheer up fella!
I’m an optimist – The crash will be swift and brutal and we might see the first signs of a new spring.

David Thomas
DT
David Thomas
9 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

If you want to see that full reality writ large, just come here to the People’s Republic of San Francisco. An Asylum run by the inmates.

William Jackson
WJ
William Jackson
10 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

If I am lucky, late in my 7th decade, the c rap storm will mean nothing to me where I am likely not to be in the ‘nearish’ future.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

That’s the trouble. And if people imagine that their old age will be in any way bearable in the “dark”, they should think again. There is no alternative to doing whatever we can to fight back – not going along with rubbish in the workplace, not paying for current theatrical or cinematic productions, voting tactically to prevent the leading lights of the left from gaining untrammelled power, elaborating and explaining our position whenever we can – and so forth. It may simply serve to slow the imposition of nonsense, but anything which keeps the few spots of light in this Marx-maddened west from going out will help.

Max Price
Max Price
10 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I’m resigned to seeing the start; I’m happy I won’t be here when the full reality of the progressive vision is manifest.

William Jackson
William Jackson
10 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

If I am lucky, late in my 7th decade, the c rap storm will mean nothing to me where I am likely not to be in the ‘nearish’ future.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

It’s already happening, or perhaps you hadn’t noticed?

Max Price
MP
Max Price
10 months ago

Yes, I’ve obviously noticed. It’s terrifying. Still, I won’t be here when it gets really bad (and it’s going to get barbaric) and for that I’m thankful.

Max Price
Max Price
10 months ago

Yes, I’ve obviously noticed. It’s terrifying. Still, I won’t be here when it gets really bad (and it’s going to get barbaric) and for that I’m thankful.

polidori redux
PR
polidori redux
10 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

It is coming sooner than you think!

Charles Stanhope
CS
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Max Price

It’s already happening, or perhaps you hadn’t noticed?

Max Price
MP
Max Price
10 months ago

Well Western Civilisation had a good run. I’m glad I wont be here to experience the coming dark age.

Last edited 10 months ago by Max Price
Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
10 months ago

How much longer is everyone expected to coddle one specific skin color? The keys to success are proven and achievable by everyone of every race in a civilized nation. Continuing to ignore the disfunction of some members of our society by blaming a historic wrong practiced by all nations and peoples on Earth is going to do what, exactly? Infantilizing a segment of the population with Great Society programs has led us to this. Why are we still putting up with it?

Cathy Carron
CC
Cathy Carron
10 months ago

American blacks had far better outcomes (family cohesion, illegitimacy, murder, etc) pre-1960. It’s been all downhill since the Democrats ‘Great Society’ threw gobs of money at them and passed socially detrimental policies which have put the black community at large on an entirely new plantation of inner city dysfunction. Since the 1960’s, more blacks have been killed in black-on-black violence than were killed in Vietnam or were lynched in the early part of the century. Those policies, Affirmative Action for one, haven’t worked as well as they thought so we are now experiencing the Second Great Shakedown. The only reason they can still do it is because a large-scale war has not occurred which would eat up Shakedown money. And Progressives have embraced Modern Monetary Theory which basically advocates printing as much money as they want. But the National Debt is reaching catastrophic heights and these policies are close to their end and it won’t be pretty.

Last edited 10 months ago by Cathy Carron
L Walker
LW
L Walker
10 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Exactly. Thank you Lyndon Johnson, and may you keep on burning for what you did.

AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Just to be clear: Do you think ending segregation and Jim Crow laws, which weighed heavily on many US blacks pre-1960, was meritorious? How about the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965?
I agree that there was overreach and a prevalent “soft bigotry of low expectations”, but to say things should have been left alone circa 1960 is a huge retrospective overcorrection as I see it. Some of course, say the same thing about 1860.
And illegitimacy and murders have risen severely in white communities since 1960 too, though not on the same scale.

L Walker
LW
L Walker
10 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Exactly. Thank you Lyndon Johnson, and may you keep on burning for what you did.

AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Just to be clear: Do you think ending segregation and Jim Crow laws, which weighed heavily on many US blacks pre-1960, was meritorious? How about the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965?
I agree that there was overreach and a prevalent “soft bigotry of low expectations”, but to say things should have been left alone circa 1960 is a huge retrospective overcorrection as I see it. Some of course, say the same thing about 1860.
And illegitimacy and murders have risen severely in white communities since 1960 too, though not on the same scale.

Cathy Carron
CC
Cathy Carron
10 months ago

American blacks had far better outcomes (family cohesion, illegitimacy, murder, etc) pre-1960. It’s been all downhill since the Democrats ‘Great Society’ threw gobs of money at them and passed socially detrimental policies which have put the black community at large on an entirely new plantation of inner city dysfunction. Since the 1960’s, more blacks have been killed in black-on-black violence than were killed in Vietnam or were lynched in the early part of the century. Those policies, Affirmative Action for one, haven’t worked as well as they thought so we are now experiencing the Second Great Shakedown. The only reason they can still do it is because a large-scale war has not occurred which would eat up Shakedown money. And Progressives have embraced Modern Monetary Theory which basically advocates printing as much money as they want. But the National Debt is reaching catastrophic heights and these policies are close to their end and it won’t be pretty.

Last edited 10 months ago by Cathy Carron
Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
10 months ago

How much longer is everyone expected to coddle one specific skin color? The keys to success are proven and achievable by everyone of every race in a civilized nation. Continuing to ignore the disfunction of some members of our society by blaming a historic wrong practiced by all nations and peoples on Earth is going to do what, exactly? Infantilizing a segment of the population with Great Society programs has led us to this. Why are we still putting up with it?

james elliott
JE
james elliott
10 months ago

“Why are teachers striking over slavery?”

Because they are stupid. Useful idiots for those who wish to destroy the West.

The West doesn’t have slaves. Hasn’t had (legal) slaves for two centuries.

Meanwhile Communist China practices wholesale de facto slavery to provide the world with cheap products – but these morons have nothing to say about that.

Reparations *are* owed – but from the CCP.

Tony Price
TP
Tony Price
10 months ago
Reply to  james elliott

Ahem – 1865 was less than ‘two centuries’ ago!

L Walker
LW
L Walker
10 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Well, math is hard.

RM Parker
RM Parker
10 months ago
Reply to  L Walker

Probably need more teachers…

RM Parker
RP
RM Parker
10 months ago
Reply to  L Walker

Probably need more teachers…

Angelique Todesco
Angelique Todesco
10 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Actually the US passed a Federal Law in 1808 making it illegal to bring captive persons into America (“This date marks the end—the permanent, legal closure—of the trans-Atlantic slave trade into our country”) and in the UK it was a year earlier in 1807. Therefore you could argue that those are the dates of the LEGAL beginning of the end of slavery although it persevered for some decades in some form.

Tony Price
Tony Price
10 months ago

You could indeed argue that, but so tenuously as to be easily dismissed. Actually slavery was legally abolished elsewhere before, and abolishing the slave trade did not prevent legal holdings of slaves. And I do believe that Germany is in the ‘west’, and slaves were legal there under the Nazis until 1945, certainly rather less than two centuries ago!

Zeph Smith
ZS
Zeph Smith
10 months ago

I think that the legal beginning of the end of slavery in the US begins a good while before that. Some states were well ahead of the curve, some well behind it. (UK banned slavery in their remaining colonies in 1834).
1775 – Pennsylvania Abolition Society formed in Philadelphia, the first abolition society within the territory that is now the United States of America.
1780 – Pennsylvania passes An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery, freeing future children of slaves
1783 – Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules slavery unconstitutional, a decision based on the 1780 Massachusetts constitution. All slaves are immediately freed.
1783 – New Hampshire passes gradual abolition of slavery
1784 – Rhode Island and Connecticut pass gradual abolition of slavery
1787 – US Congress passes the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, outlawing any new slavery in the Northwest Territories.
1794 – US Congress passes the Slave Trade Act bans both American ships from participating in the slave trade and the export of slaves in foreign ship
1799 – New York passes gradual abolition of slavery
1800 – US Congress passes an additional Slave Trade Act, banning American citizens banned from investment and employment in the international slave trade
1802 – Ohio state constitution abolishes slavery
1804 – New Jersey passes abolishment of slavery
1806 – US Congress passes Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, making international slave trade a felony; this act takes effect on 1 January 1808, the earliest date permitted under the Constitution

nigel roberts
NR
nigel roberts
9 months ago
Reply to  Zeph Smith

Rhode Island outlawed slavery in 1652.

nigel roberts
NR
nigel roberts
9 months ago
Reply to  Zeph Smith

Rhode Island outlawed slavery in 1652.

Tony Price
TP
Tony Price
10 months ago

You could indeed argue that, but so tenuously as to be easily dismissed. Actually slavery was legally abolished elsewhere before, and abolishing the slave trade did not prevent legal holdings of slaves. And I do believe that Germany is in the ‘west’, and slaves were legal there under the Nazis until 1945, certainly rather less than two centuries ago!

Zeph Smith
ZS
Zeph Smith
10 months ago

I think that the legal beginning of the end of slavery in the US begins a good while before that. Some states were well ahead of the curve, some well behind it. (UK banned slavery in their remaining colonies in 1834).
1775 – Pennsylvania Abolition Society formed in Philadelphia, the first abolition society within the territory that is now the United States of America.
1780 – Pennsylvania passes An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery, freeing future children of slaves
1783 – Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules slavery unconstitutional, a decision based on the 1780 Massachusetts constitution. All slaves are immediately freed.
1783 – New Hampshire passes gradual abolition of slavery
1784 – Rhode Island and Connecticut pass gradual abolition of slavery
1787 – US Congress passes the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, outlawing any new slavery in the Northwest Territories.
1794 – US Congress passes the Slave Trade Act bans both American ships from participating in the slave trade and the export of slaves in foreign ship
1799 – New York passes gradual abolition of slavery
1800 – US Congress passes an additional Slave Trade Act, banning American citizens banned from investment and employment in the international slave trade
1802 – Ohio state constitution abolishes slavery
1804 – New Jersey passes abolishment of slavery
1806 – US Congress passes Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, making international slave trade a felony; this act takes effect on 1 January 1808, the earliest date permitted under the Constitution

L Walker
L Walker
10 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Well, math is hard.

Angelique Todesco
AT
Angelique Todesco
10 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Actually the US passed a Federal Law in 1808 making it illegal to bring captive persons into America (“This date marks the end—the permanent, legal closure—of the trans-Atlantic slave trade into our country”) and in the UK it was a year earlier in 1807. Therefore you could argue that those are the dates of the LEGAL beginning of the end of slavery although it persevered for some decades in some form.

Lindsay S
LS
Lindsay S
10 months ago
Reply to  james elliott

Not to mention how the slave trade was brought back to Africa by Obama. It might not have been his intention but the facts remain, without Gaddafi, the slave trade (and other unsavoury activities such as terrorist training camps) flourish now in Libya. Oh the irony!

Last edited 10 months ago by Lindsay S
Tony Price
TP
Tony Price
10 months ago
Reply to  james elliott

Ahem – 1865 was less than ‘two centuries’ ago!

Lindsay S
LS
Lindsay S
10 months ago
Reply to  james elliott

Not to mention how the slave trade was brought back to Africa by Obama. It might not have been his intention but the facts remain, without Gaddafi, the slave trade (and other unsavoury activities such as terrorist training camps) flourish now in Libya. Oh the irony!

Last edited 10 months ago by Lindsay S
james elliott
JE
james elliott
10 months ago

“Why are teachers striking over slavery?”

Because they are stupid. Useful idiots for those who wish to destroy the West.

The West doesn’t have slaves. Hasn’t had (legal) slaves for two centuries.

Meanwhile Communist China practices wholesale de facto slavery to provide the world with cheap products – but these morons have nothing to say about that.

Reparations *are* owed – but from the CCP.

Albireo Double
AD
Albireo Double
10 months ago

And yet the writer, as a parent, appears broadly supportive of this action against his own kids, their education, and their future prospects.

Shame on him then.

Last edited 10 months ago by Albireo Double
Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
10 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

He said he was supportive of striking to improve the lives of the teachers or the facilities of the school, which I would be even if it meant my kids missed a few days school. He seems less impressed with the woke nonsense that appears to be slyly tacked onto causes that enjoy more widespread support

Stephen Quilley
SG
Stephen Quilley
10 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

He’s not very clear

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
10 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Striking teachers damage your children’s education, and giving teachers more money won’t make them better teachers. So why do you support an action that directly harms your children for no benefit to them? I don’t mean to be rude, but do you earn more than the teachers and feel guilty? If you don’t earn more than the teachers, how are they poorly paid?

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
10 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Teachers being able to afford to live less than a two mile commute from their place of work would likely make them more effective teachers.

Paying teachers more might attract better people into teaching.

Bill Wainwright
BW
Bill Wainwright
10 months ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

Unions in white collar professions reward mediocrity, protect bad actors, and reduce incentives for improving outcomes. They have no place in teaching, law enforcement, or any role where the recipient has no choice as to the provider.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
10 months ago

I’d wager they’re even more important in those industries, as most staff don’t have the option of moving to another employer for more pay in the way they do in the public sector. It’s the only way they can ensure their wages keep pace with inflation and most don’t even manage that.
Allowing individual schools to set they’re own pay rates snd have to compete for teachers (while there’s a shortage of people in the profession) would lead to teachers salaries going through the roof and the education budget soaring, which no doubt you’d also then complain about being a waste of taxpayers money

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
10 months ago

I’d wager they’re even more important in those industries, as most staff don’t have the option of moving to another employer for more pay in the way they do in the public sector. It’s the only way they can ensure their wages keep pace with inflation and most don’t even manage that.
Allowing individual schools to set they’re own pay rates snd have to compete for teachers (while there’s a shortage of people in the profession) would lead to teachers salaries going through the roof and the education budget soaring, which no doubt you’d also then complain about being a waste of taxpayers money

Bill Wainwright
Bill Wainwright
10 months ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

Unions in white collar professions reward mediocrity, protect bad actors, and reduce incentives for improving outcomes. They have no place in teaching, law enforcement, or any role where the recipient has no choice as to the provider.

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
10 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I support them because as a profession there are less teachers than are needed, and retention is a major problem. Therefore to me it implies the wages aren’t high enough to entice and retain the teachers the country needs.
Having a shortage of qualified teachers long term would impact my kids education more negatively than missing a few days due to strikes.
I also want teachers to have a decent life outside the classroom, rather than be forced into long commutes or poor quality living conditions. Seeing as they can’t easily switch jobs for more money like you can in the private sector means that striking is often the only tool they have if the government offers pay rises that are less than the rate of inflation. What I earn I believe is irrelevant to the conversation, although it’s probably similar to a teacher of a similar age

Tom Graham
TG
Tom Graham
10 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Teachers being able to afford to live less than a two mile commute from their place of work would likely make them more effective teachers.

Paying teachers more might attract better people into teaching.

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
10 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I support them because as a profession there are less teachers than are needed, and retention is a major problem. Therefore to me it implies the wages aren’t high enough to entice and retain the teachers the country needs.
Having a shortage of qualified teachers long term would impact my kids education more negatively than missing a few days due to strikes.
I also want teachers to have a decent life outside the classroom, rather than be forced into long commutes or poor quality living conditions. Seeing as they can’t easily switch jobs for more money like you can in the private sector means that striking is often the only tool they have if the government offers pay rises that are less than the rate of inflation. What I earn I believe is irrelevant to the conversation, although it’s probably similar to a teacher of a similar age

Stephen Quilley
SG
Stephen Quilley
10 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

He’s not very clear

Nell Clover
NC
Nell Clover
10 months ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Striking teachers damage your children’s education, and giving teachers more money won’t make them better teachers. So why do you support an action that directly harms your children for no benefit to them? I don’t mean to be rude, but do you earn more than the teachers and feel guilty? If you don’t earn more than the teachers, how are they poorly paid?

Billy Bob
BB
Billy Bob
10 months ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

He said he was supportive of striking to improve the lives of the teachers or the facilities of the school, which I would be even if it meant my kids missed a few days school. He seems less impressed with the woke nonsense that appears to be slyly tacked onto causes that enjoy more widespread support

Albireo Double
AD
Albireo Double
10 months ago

And yet the writer, as a parent, appears broadly supportive of this action against his own kids, their education, and their future prospects.

Shame on him then.

Last edited 10 months ago by Albireo Double
Sharon Overy
SO
Sharon Overy
10 months ago

I suspect a Trojan Horse:
Demand is made for ‘Reparations’.People fear it’s the usual large payout for black people.Then specifics are found to be more communitarian.Relieved school board agrees.But what has been legally committed to is ‘Reparations’.The real demand follows.

Sharon Overy
SO
Sharon Overy
10 months ago

I suspect a Trojan Horse:
Demand is made for ‘Reparations’.People fear it’s the usual large payout for black people.Then specifics are found to be more communitarian.Relieved school board agrees.But what has been legally committed to is ‘Reparations’.The real demand follows.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
10 months ago

“requires good teachers who are paid well, and which the schools find hard enough already”

If good pay is the way to secure good teachers, and teaching is poorly paid, why did the current good teachers join teaching? It can’t have been about the money…

… or an awful lot of dross has joined teaching. Their ability won’t miraculously improve with a pay rise. So why support a strike to pay bad teachers more?

For anyone concerned about education, the only thing that matters are the results. And the results are the children.

Striking car workers didn’t make better cars despite securing more pay – the opposite was true. Striking teachers won’t deliver higher standards if they’re paid more – the lost teaching days won’t be replaced and the disgruntled teachers will find something else to be disgruntled about.

The old car industry was destroyed by activist workers, replaced by new foreign factories typically offering lower pay, fewer jobs and, ironically, higher job satisfaction thanks to the malcontents being eliminated. Activist teachers will destroy state education for the poor, whilst the savvy and the better off tutor their children and buy internships.

Progressives are extraordinarily regressive.

Last edited 10 months ago by Nell Clover
Mônica
M
Mônica
10 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Yeah! Let them eat cake! If they were any good, they would have chosen a properly paid job, right? Right?

Alphonse Pfarti
AP
Alphonse Pfarti
10 months ago
Reply to  Mônica

Yes, that’s right.

Nell Clover
NC
Nell Clover
10 months ago
Reply to  Mônica

Teachers earn the median salary. Half of the working population earn less. Your comment makes it seem even more ridiculous that they are striking for themselves to have more when most people have less.

Claire England
Claire England
10 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

There are lots of bad teachers out there. The good ones generally do it because they know what an important job it is. They sacrifice greater earning potential as well a time with their families to do what is often a thankless job. To really change education, we need to raise the requirements to be an education major, and pay teachers more, which will in turn encourage more smart people to take up the profession. Right now it’s far too easy to become an Ed major, and much of the curricula are dumbed down, and yes, politicized. Most good teachers who leave do so because they’re exhausted from the insane bureaucracy and the lack of student engagement. I’ve met countless people – over a 23 years’ career as a professor and public school teacher – from other countries who tell me about their teacher training standards and the greater pay and respect their nations’ teachers receive.

Claire England
CE
Claire England
10 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

There are lots of bad teachers out there. The good ones generally do it because they know what an important job it is. They sacrifice greater earning potential as well a time with their families to do what is often a thankless job. To really change education, we need to raise the requirements to be an education major, and pay teachers more, which will in turn encourage more smart people to take up the profession. Right now it’s far too easy to become an Ed major, and much of the curricula are dumbed down, and yes, politicized. Most good teachers who leave do so because they’re exhausted from the insane bureaucracy and the lack of student engagement. I’ve met countless people – over a 23 years’ career as a professor and public school teacher – from other countries who tell me about their teacher training standards and the greater pay and respect their nations’ teachers receive.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
10 months ago
Reply to  Mônica

Yes, that’s right.

Nell Clover
NC
Nell Clover
10 months ago
Reply to  Mônica

Teachers earn the median salary. Half of the working population earn less. Your comment makes it seem even more ridiculous that they are striking for themselves to have more when most people have less.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
10 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I was an adjunct at a teacher’s college in the early 2000s and was often gobsmacked at how dim, incurious, inarticulate, and barely literate the students were. Now, pierced, tatted, pink haired weirdos boasting about their furry non-binary status on Tik Tok are in schools telling elementary-aged children they can switch sexes. I hope they strike the entire system into the ground.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago

It’s likely better for everyone you switched fields as your characterizations of your those outside your socioeconomic lane or political bent are often cartoonish.
When did so many conservatives become so intent on burning things down, all the while blaming liberals and progressives for wanting to burn it all down?
Love and forgive your enemies–that teaching is quite singular to Jesus, and it remains a radical challenge. Don’t have to like them or excuse their sins.
What solutions, whether incremental or reverse-radical, can you or those who endorse your comment offer beyond “let ’em suffer and burn”?
With what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again. And no, I don’t feel relaxed about or justified by that biblical truth. May God–the One whose name is I AM THAT I AM–have mercy on all of us. Have a good Sunday everyone.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
Judy Johnson
JJ
Judy Johnson
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Well said AJ Mac.
Sometimes it is because conservatives assume that people who are not succeeding are not trying hard enough. I think that Alison’s comment on children being ‘dim and incurious’ is relevant; often children doing badly are trying very hard but if there is no conversation at home , perhaps because they are all in front of screens and don’t eat together to talk then, then the children do not learn to process information.

AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Thanks Judy Johnson. You can call me AJ (though not my birth name, that’s what’s on my license and passport now).
While it expresses my true feelings of that moment, I’m actually not real proud of my comment above, which was a longer sermonette until I cut out the middle. I responded to what I perceived as meanness and judgmentalism with a measure of mean judgment, and couldn’t resist referring to the commenter’s successful comic strip (“cartoonish”). I was also reacting to a series of previous comments on other articles as if they were fully relevant to the comment above–not fair.
I agree there’s some real validity in Ms. Barrows’ comment about kids (and teachers) these days, though she was talking about the early 2000s–a less screen-centered time–when mentioning her own teaching days.
It’s also true, for example, that some have-nots are simply lazy and some have-a-lots don’t have to do much (comparatively speaking) to enjoy their social position and material comforts. But I don’t think that’s the norm on either side. Most people are doing close to the best they (currently) can, according to their understanding and human struggles, both common and idiosyncratic, in a system and society they’ve had little individual part in building, whatever their lot in life.
Most of us, me for-sure included, are a little too inclined to make those who disagree with or accuse us out to be wrong, unworthy, or even evil, instead of brothers and sisters with whom we share an unfortunate, mutual lack of understanding, and sometimes an honest, sharp difference in outlook or perception.
I’m really trying to cut down on labeling and dismissing people. And on talking at and past them. I need to pick my moments better and practice more of what I preach and believe. A work in progress.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
9 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

In the UK there used to be vast range in the academic standards of teachers. A Chartered Engineer I know was taught maths at King Edward VIth Grammar School by a Cambridge Wrangler. Until the 1980s teachers were teachers with Cert Eds which were extended a year to become B.Eds. The introduction of progressive education meant discipline, streaming, competitive sports and striving for excellence disappeared from many schools, especially those within the inner city. A Head teacher said if 25% of a class or school is disruptive one is involved in riot control not education.
In the UK, the Butler Act of 1944 suggested dividing pulpils into three schools at the age of eleven years according to ability which happens in Switzerland.
There is a vast range in academic, sporting, musical and artistic ability. The idea that one can teach all things to all pupils is absurd. One friend, by the age of eleven years could learn French, Latin, Greek and Sanskrit, other children will struggle do learn a language by the age of sixteen years.
In places such as Sri Lank and south East Asia education is respected by parents and pupils and has to be paid for.There are hardly any discipline problems. In Sri Lanka the school can be a blackborad under a tree and the teacher cycles from village to village but despite poverty, catholic boys take Latin O Level.
Teachers do have a tough time because many parents and the progressive education system despise scholarship, discipline and good manners. If one looks at India and Pakistan it is still an advantage for a lady to have a convent education as they are respected.
It is much easier for progressive teachers to pontificate on cultural marxism than teach Maths to an adequate standard to read a STEM subject at MIT or Latin and Greek at Harvard.

Charles Hedges
CH
Charles Hedges
9 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

In the UK there used to be vast range in the academic standards of teachers. A Chartered Engineer I know was taught maths at King Edward VIth Grammar School by a Cambridge Wrangler. Until the 1980s teachers were teachers with Cert Eds which were extended a year to become B.Eds. The introduction of progressive education meant discipline, streaming, competitive sports and striving for excellence disappeared from many schools, especially those within the inner city. A Head teacher said if 25% of a class or school is disruptive one is involved in riot control not education.
In the UK, the Butler Act of 1944 suggested dividing pulpils into three schools at the age of eleven years according to ability which happens in Switzerland.
There is a vast range in academic, sporting, musical and artistic ability. The idea that one can teach all things to all pupils is absurd. One friend, by the age of eleven years could learn French, Latin, Greek and Sanskrit, other children will struggle do learn a language by the age of sixteen years.
In places such as Sri Lank and south East Asia education is respected by parents and pupils and has to be paid for.There are hardly any discipline problems. In Sri Lanka the school can be a blackborad under a tree and the teacher cycles from village to village but despite poverty, catholic boys take Latin O Level.
Teachers do have a tough time because many parents and the progressive education system despise scholarship, discipline and good manners. If one looks at India and Pakistan it is still an advantage for a lady to have a convent education as they are respected.
It is much easier for progressive teachers to pontificate on cultural marxism than teach Maths to an adequate standard to read a STEM subject at MIT or Latin and Greek at Harvard.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Thanks Judy Johnson. You can call me AJ (though not my birth name, that’s what’s on my license and passport now).
While it expresses my true feelings of that moment, I’m actually not real proud of my comment above, which was a longer sermonette until I cut out the middle. I responded to what I perceived as meanness and judgmentalism with a measure of mean judgment, and couldn’t resist referring to the commenter’s successful comic strip (“cartoonish”). I was also reacting to a series of previous comments on other articles as if they were fully relevant to the comment above–not fair.
I agree there’s some real validity in Ms. Barrows’ comment about kids (and teachers) these days, though she was talking about the early 2000s–a less screen-centered time–when mentioning her own teaching days.
It’s also true, for example, that some have-nots are simply lazy and some have-a-lots don’t have to do much (comparatively speaking) to enjoy their social position and material comforts. But I don’t think that’s the norm on either side. Most people are doing close to the best they (currently) can, according to their understanding and human struggles, both common and idiosyncratic, in a system and society they’ve had little individual part in building, whatever their lot in life.
Most of us, me for-sure included, are a little too inclined to make those who disagree with or accuse us out to be wrong, unworthy, or even evil, instead of brothers and sisters with whom we share an unfortunate, mutual lack of understanding, and sometimes an honest, sharp difference in outlook or perception.
I’m really trying to cut down on labeling and dismissing people. And on talking at and past them. I need to pick my moments better and practice more of what I preach and believe. A work in progress.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
10 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Well said AJ Mac.
Sometimes it is because conservatives assume that people who are not succeeding are not trying hard enough. I think that Alison’s comment on children being ‘dim and incurious’ is relevant; often children doing badly are trying very hard but if there is no conversation at home , perhaps because they are all in front of screens and don’t eat together to talk then, then the children do not learn to process information.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago

It’s likely better for everyone you switched fields as your characterizations of your those outside your socioeconomic lane or political bent are often cartoonish.
When did so many conservatives become so intent on burning things down, all the while blaming liberals and progressives for wanting to burn it all down?
Love and forgive your enemies–that teaching is quite singular to Jesus, and it remains a radical challenge. Don’t have to like them or excuse their sins.
What solutions, whether incremental or reverse-radical, can you or those who endorse your comment offer beyond “let ’em suffer and burn”?
With what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again. And no, I don’t feel relaxed about or justified by that biblical truth. May God–the One whose name is I AM THAT I AM–have mercy on all of us. Have a good Sunday everyone.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
Mônica
M
Mônica
10 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Yeah! Let them eat cake! If they were any good, they would have chosen a properly paid job, right? Right?

Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
10 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I was an adjunct at a teacher’s college in the early 2000s and was often gobsmacked at how dim, incurious, inarticulate, and barely literate the students were. Now, pierced, tatted, pink haired weirdos boasting about their furry non-binary status on Tik Tok are in schools telling elementary-aged children they can switch sexes. I hope they strike the entire system into the ground.

Nell Clover
NC
Nell Clover
10 months ago

“requires good teachers who are paid well, and which the schools find hard enough already”

If good pay is the way to secure good teachers, and teaching is poorly paid, why did the current good teachers join teaching? It can’t have been about the money…

… or an awful lot of dross has joined teaching. Their ability won’t miraculously improve with a pay rise. So why support a strike to pay bad teachers more?

For anyone concerned about education, the only thing that matters are the results. And the results are the children.

Striking car workers didn’t make better cars despite securing more pay – the opposite was true. Striking teachers won’t deliver higher standards if they’re paid more – the lost teaching days won’t be replaced and the disgruntled teachers will find something else to be disgruntled about.

The old car industry was destroyed by activist workers, replaced by new foreign factories typically offering lower pay, fewer jobs and, ironically, higher job satisfaction thanks to the malcontents being eliminated. Activist teachers will destroy state education for the poor, whilst the savvy and the better off tutor their children and buy internships.

Progressives are extraordinarily regressive.

Last edited 10 months ago by Nell Clover
Robert Hochbaum
Robert Hochbaum
10 months ago

“Indeed, the vernacular rawness and bluntness of Oakland’s racial politics is one of the many things I found refreshing about the city when I moved here in 2004. Feeling all my arguments from “colour blindness” fall away was both a settling-in and a liberation. I lived in Oakland now.”

“More alienating is the strong sense that these plans emerged from a hermetic and vaguely unhealthy process, an esoteric set of deliberative pressures peculiar to progressive “spaces”, as these spaces have been rewired in recent years.”

Wow. What to say other than I would bet most people who saw the ‘rawness and bluntness of Oakland’s racial politics’ would know that before long it would very likely lead to polarization along racial lines. They weren’t ‘rewired in recent years’, Mr. Feeney. This was the logical outcome all along. Do you still believe that letting your ‘colour blindness’ fall away was a wise thing? Good grief.

Last edited 10 months ago by Robert Hochbaum
Robert Hochbaum
RH
Robert Hochbaum
10 months ago

“Indeed, the vernacular rawness and bluntness of Oakland’s racial politics is one of the many things I found refreshing about the city when I moved here in 2004. Feeling all my arguments from “colour blindness” fall away was both a settling-in and a liberation. I lived in Oakland now.”

“More alienating is the strong sense that these plans emerged from a hermetic and vaguely unhealthy process, an esoteric set of deliberative pressures peculiar to progressive “spaces”, as these spaces have been rewired in recent years.”

Wow. What to say other than I would bet most people who saw the ‘rawness and bluntness of Oakland’s racial politics’ would know that before long it would very likely lead to polarization along racial lines. They weren’t ‘rewired in recent years’, Mr. Feeney. This was the logical outcome all along. Do you still believe that letting your ‘colour blindness’ fall away was a wise thing? Good grief.

Last edited 10 months ago by Robert Hochbaum
John Hilton
JH
John Hilton
10 months ago

Apparently, the California budget includes over 23,000 usd per child (bit.ly/43CtdoY0). That is over 575,000 per 25-student classroom. Meanwhile, teachers are paid a little over $62,000 per year (bit.ly/3ISZSPb0). Where the devil is the rest of the money going?

This is the elephant in the room in almost every jurisdiction.

Claire England
CE
Claire England
10 months ago
Reply to  John Hilton

The $$$ is going to our Silicone Valley Overlords. Every student, even in PreK, gets a Chrome book. This has been a disaster ( but that’s a different essay). Each classroom has a Smart Board, projector, and other electronic gadgets. And if you want to teach, say, The Hobbit, you are gifted with a STEAMER TRUNK-sized set of workbooks and classroom exercises that actually make Tolkien boring!!! We managed to produce people who cured Polio and put men on the moon with books and blackboards, but schools cannot resist the shiny new toys that do little but worsen students’ attention spans and remove personal interaction with each other.

Claire England
CE
Claire England
10 months ago
Reply to  John Hilton

The $$$ is going to our Silicone Valley Overlords. Every student, even in PreK, gets a Chrome book. This has been a disaster ( but that’s a different essay). Each classroom has a Smart Board, projector, and other electronic gadgets. And if you want to teach, say, The Hobbit, you are gifted with a STEAMER TRUNK-sized set of workbooks and classroom exercises that actually make Tolkien boring!!! We managed to produce people who cured Polio and put men on the moon with books and blackboards, but schools cannot resist the shiny new toys that do little but worsen students’ attention spans and remove personal interaction with each other.

John Hilton
John Hilton
10 months ago

Apparently, the California budget includes over 23,000 usd per child (bit.ly/43CtdoY0). That is over 575,000 per 25-student classroom. Meanwhile, teachers are paid a little over $62,000 per year (bit.ly/3ISZSPb0). Where the devil is the rest of the money going?

This is the elephant in the room in almost every jurisdiction.

Daniel Britten
DB
Daniel Britten
10 months ago

This is such a long-winded article that I gave up half way through. I’m sure he has something interesting to say but the first rule of writing is: be concise.

Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
10 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Britten

He trained as an English teacher, so that probably explains it.

polidori redux
PR
polidori redux
10 months ago

There is pleasure to be found in verbosity.

Pat Rowles
Pat Rowles
10 months ago

Possibly Unherd’s fault rather than the author’s, but in his bio he is referred to as ‘an writer’.

AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Pat Rowles

He ain’t no stylistic master, but I reckon he writes pretty good, though not nearways as concise as we commentin’ folk.

AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Pat Rowles

He ain’t no stylistic master, but I reckon he writes pretty good, though not nearways as concise as we commentin’ folk.

polidori redux
PR
polidori redux
10 months ago

There is pleasure to be found in verbosity.

Pat Rowles
PR
Pat Rowles
10 months ago

Possibly Unherd’s fault rather than the author’s, but in his bio he is referred to as ‘an writer’.

Allison Barrows
AB
Allison Barrows
10 months ago
Reply to  Daniel Britten

He trained as an English teacher, so that probably explains it.

Daniel Britten
DB
Daniel Britten
10 months ago

This is such a long-winded article that I gave up half way through. I’m sure he has something interesting to say but the first rule of writing is: be concise.

Eric Mader
Eric Mader
10 months ago

More than a whiff of Stockholm syndrome in this piece.

Eric Mader
EM
Eric Mader
10 months ago

More than a whiff of Stockholm syndrome in this piece.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
10 months ago

Interesting as to how South Africa crumbled into yet another failed state… when apartheid was binned….?

L Walker
L Walker
10 months ago

There you go with facts.

nigel taylor
NT
nigel taylor
10 months ago

Practically every south of the sahara state in Africa is a failed state and thinking about it most of the northern states are similar.

Last edited 10 months ago by nigel taylor
L Walker
L Walker
10 months ago

There you go with facts.

nigel taylor
NT
nigel taylor
10 months ago

Practically every south of the sahara state in Africa is a failed state and thinking about it most of the northern states are similar.

Last edited 10 months ago by nigel taylor
Nicky Samengo-Turner
NS
Nicky Samengo-Turner
10 months ago

Interesting as to how South Africa crumbled into yet another failed state… when apartheid was binned….?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 months ago

I live on the San Francisco peninsula, about 50 miles south west of Oakland. I was puzzled by the author describing Oakland as an expensive city. Piedmont is the fancy part of Oakland, up in the hills with views over San Francisco Bay. The rest is a poor, dysfunctional city with bad schools, demoralized teachers, very high crime and therefore one of the cheapest places to live around here! It’s notoriety is such that many people in the Bay Area will never drive to Oakland. The place where a film crew making a TV documentary about crime was robbed of all their equipment at gunpoint. I would think the vast majority of parents with children who have any interest in their education would move almost anywhere else. What is the author trying to prove by staying there?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

But there are quite a few gentrified pockets now and the average two-bedroom apartment in Oakland is $2,900 (about 2,330 pounds) a month versus $1,320 nationwide. Housing is not as exorbitant as it in San Francisco ($4,081) or where I live, in San Jose ($3,287), but a bit more than LA ($2,781) and you’d have to live in an especially scary and derelict neighborhood to pay anything close to the national or even Fresno average ($1,500). Plus, if you lived in one of the safer neighborhoods, you’d see homelessness and petty crime but scarcely hear any gunshots.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

But there are quite a few gentrified pockets now and the average two-bedroom apartment in Oakland is $2,900 (about 2,330 pounds) a month versus $1,320 nationwide. Housing is not as exorbitant as it in San Francisco ($4,081) or where I live, in San Jose ($3,287), but a bit more than LA ($2,781) and you’d have to live in an especially scary and derelict neighborhood to pay anything close to the national or even Fresno average ($1,500). Plus, if you lived in one of the safer neighborhoods, you’d see homelessness and petty crime but scarcely hear any gunshots.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
10 months ago

I live on the San Francisco peninsula, about 50 miles south west of Oakland. I was puzzled by the author describing Oakland as an expensive city. Piedmont is the fancy part of Oakland, up in the hills with views over San Francisco Bay. The rest is a poor, dysfunctional city with bad schools, demoralized teachers, very high crime and therefore one of the cheapest places to live around here! It’s notoriety is such that many people in the Bay Area will never drive to Oakland. The place where a film crew making a TV documentary about crime was robbed of all their equipment at gunpoint. I would think the vast majority of parents with children who have any interest in their education would move almost anywhere else. What is the author trying to prove by staying there?

Rick Frazier
RF
Rick Frazier
10 months ago

Many inner city school systems in the US are, by their very nature, some of the most systemically racist systems that exist in the country. And yet, these same failing, union controlled systems claim to be the authorities on race. “The system always wins” is a long-standing tenet of total quality management. When a system is broken, it doesn’t matter how many smart people you place in the system, or how much money you throw at the system: the system will always win. Charter schools and vouchers are the forcing mechanisms that can disrupt the existing systems enough to cause real change. Without such forcing mechanisms, the results we’ve been living with the past few decades will be the same results we see a few decades from now.

Even teacher pay is hindered by the current union controlled systems. Teacher pay could dramatically increase if additional funds allocated to school systems were solely earmarked for teachers. Instead, additional funds are typically used to increase the number of non-teaching staff hires. This brings in more union dues, but does little to boost teacher pay.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
10 months ago
Reply to  Rick Frazier

I enjoyed reading your comment, Rick. I’m actually writing a paper related to the phenomenon of how bad systems ruin good people. Teaching is a lot like that.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
10 months ago
Reply to  Rick Frazier

I enjoyed reading your comment, Rick. I’m actually writing a paper related to the phenomenon of how bad systems ruin good people. Teaching is a lot like that.

Rick Frazier
Rick Frazier
10 months ago

Many inner city school systems in the US are, by their very nature, some of the most systemically racist systems that exist in the country. And yet, these same failing, union controlled systems claim to be the authorities on race. “The system always wins” is a long-standing tenet of total quality management. When a system is broken, it doesn’t matter how many smart people you place in the system, or how much money you throw at the system: the system will always win. Charter schools and vouchers are the forcing mechanisms that can disrupt the existing systems enough to cause real change. Without such forcing mechanisms, the results we’ve been living with the past few decades will be the same results we see a few decades from now.

Even teacher pay is hindered by the current union controlled systems. Teacher pay could dramatically increase if additional funds allocated to school systems were solely earmarked for teachers. Instead, additional funds are typically used to increase the number of non-teaching staff hires. This brings in more union dues, but does little to boost teacher pay.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
10 months ago

Many school board elections in America are officially “non-partisan,” meaning candidates don’t declare a political party affiliation. This is supposedly to keep the child-focused sphere of education free of the taint of politics. It doesn’t. All it does is provide a cloak for radical activists (or those under their influence) to mouth The-Kids-Are-All-That-Matters cliches and then proceed to demonstrate that for them, it’s more like Progressivism-Is-All-That-Matters once they get in office.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
10 months ago

Many school board elections in America are officially “non-partisan,” meaning candidates don’t declare a political party affiliation. This is supposedly to keep the child-focused sphere of education free of the taint of politics. It doesn’t. All it does is provide a cloak for radical activists (or those under their influence) to mouth The-Kids-Are-All-That-Matters cliches and then proceed to demonstrate that for them, it’s more like Progressivism-Is-All-That-Matters once they get in office.

Yana Way
Yana Way
10 months ago

What is also sad is that these decisions rarely involve most teachers. The union reps decide with almost zero input. I did not know this til I became a union rep this year. We hardly ever ask the greater community of teachers before we decide. I am quitting after this year. It is not what I expected.

Yana Way
Yana Way
10 months ago

What is also sad is that these decisions rarely involve most teachers. The union reps decide with almost zero input. I did not know this til I became a union rep this year. We hardly ever ask the greater community of teachers before we decide. I am quitting after this year. It is not what I expected.

Daniel P
Daniel P
10 months ago

I say you do not do another contract, you terminate every single teacher and start over.
Do a complete reboot of the system because you are NOT going to fix this incrementally, the system is too far gone to be saved.
Smash it all to pieces, sweep away the rubbish, and start over.

AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Where will the teachers come from and how long will it take to find them, to serve a city of 400,000, once the Righteous Purge is done? “Come to New Zion (formerly Oakland) and help build our schools from the ashes and rubble”.
This sounds like conservatism with a massive appetite for destruction. Where’s the sense of conservational moderation and preservation of order? A massive overhaul: sure. Angels of Destruction followed by glorious rebirth instead of worse chaos: doubt it. We can declare any number of US institutions and cities to be Soviet Moscow or Sodom and Gomorrah, calling for and cheering their destruction. But the bloody (or bloodier) aftermath of such a willingness to destroy will reach our doorsteps too, yours and mine.

AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

Where will the teachers come from and how long will it take to find them, to serve a city of 400,000, once the Righteous Purge is done? “Come to New Zion (formerly Oakland) and help build our schools from the ashes and rubble”.
This sounds like conservatism with a massive appetite for destruction. Where’s the sense of conservational moderation and preservation of order? A massive overhaul: sure. Angels of Destruction followed by glorious rebirth instead of worse chaos: doubt it. We can declare any number of US institutions and cities to be Soviet Moscow or Sodom and Gomorrah, calling for and cheering their destruction. But the bloody (or bloodier) aftermath of such a willingness to destroy will reach our doorsteps too, yours and mine.

Daniel P
Daniel P
10 months ago

I say you do not do another contract, you terminate every single teacher and start over.
Do a complete reboot of the system because you are NOT going to fix this incrementally, the system is too far gone to be saved.
Smash it all to pieces, sweep away the rubbish, and start over.

William Hickey
William Hickey
10 months ago

Get your children out of the government schools.

Judy Johnson
JJ
Judy Johnson
10 months ago
Reply to  William Hickey

What proportion of people in the US can afford private schooling? Few here in the UK.
The answer is to make the schools fit for purpose. If only those whose parents can afford to pay for schooling get a good education, you are creating a VERY unfair society.

Judy Johnson
JJ
Judy Johnson
10 months ago
Reply to  William Hickey

What proportion of people in the US can afford private schooling? Few here in the UK.
The answer is to make the schools fit for purpose. If only those whose parents can afford to pay for schooling get a good education, you are creating a VERY unfair society.

William Hickey
William Hickey
10 months ago

Get your children out of the government schools.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
10 months ago

I have been wondering how the demands for reparations can be balanced and suggest some version of copyright. The Babylonians (Iraq approximately) used Pythagoras’s theorem. The Greeks would be in for a big payout given Aristotle is considered the father of Science. The English have Newton, Turing, Shakespeare and more. The Jews have Einstein plus many more. Working out the payout each time a piece of electronics is used or a film made would create a whole new industry, the intellectual justice warriors and they could do battle with social justice warriors.

Last edited 10 months ago by Aphrodite Rises
Apo State
Apo State
10 months ago

I think about this every time I hear someone derisively refer to “dead White men”. When BLM has their annual boycott of Whiteness each December, I always wish they would go ALL the way: no electricity, running water, radio, internet, computers, indoor heating/cooling, etc. — anything created by dead White men should be off the table during the boycott. After all, giving up what you don’t value should be dead easy, no?

Apo State
AS
Apo State
10 months ago

I think about this every time I hear someone derisively refer to “dead White men”. When BLM has their annual boycott of Whiteness each December, I always wish they would go ALL the way: no electricity, running water, radio, internet, computers, indoor heating/cooling, etc. — anything created by dead White men should be off the table during the boycott. After all, giving up what you don’t value should be dead easy, no?

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
10 months ago

I have been wondering how the demands for reparations can be balanced and suggest some version of copyright. The Babylonians (Iraq approximately) used Pythagoras’s theorem. The Greeks would be in for a big payout given Aristotle is considered the father of Science. The English have Newton, Turing, Shakespeare and more. The Jews have Einstein plus many more. Working out the payout each time a piece of electronics is used or a film made would create a whole new industry, the intellectual justice warriors and they could do battle with social justice warriors.

Last edited 10 months ago by Aphrodite Rises
Christopher Chantrill
CC
Christopher Chantrill
10 months ago

Since Britannica defines “reparations” as “a levy on a defeated country” we can see the point of the current enthusiasm for reparations for slavery. It is another humiliation heaped upon the deplorable white working class.
Of course, the reparations heaped on Germany after WWI didn’t end well.

Christopher Chantrill
CC
Christopher Chantrill
10 months ago

Since Britannica defines “reparations” as “a levy on a defeated country” we can see the point of the current enthusiasm for reparations for slavery. It is another humiliation heaped upon the deplorable white working class.
Of course, the reparations heaped on Germany after WWI didn’t end well.

Tom Scott
Tom Scott
10 months ago

Cloud cuckoo land!
These are supposedly intelligent and professional people. How do they sign-up to this nonsense?

Tom Scott
Tom Scott
10 months ago

Cloud cuckoo land!
These are supposedly intelligent and professional people. How do they sign-up to this nonsense?

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
10 months ago

In Plato’s Laches, a man confessed to Socrates that he is ashamed to be in the same room with his own sons. Why? Because he knew his sons needed an education, but he did not have a clue about what they should be taught or who should teach them. Terribly honest, that man.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
10 months ago

In Plato’s Laches, a man confessed to Socrates that he is ashamed to be in the same room with his own sons. Why? Because he knew his sons needed an education, but he did not have a clue about what they should be taught or who should teach them. Terribly honest, that man.

polidori redux
PR
polidori redux
10 months ago

I am curious to know how many teachers obeyed the call to withdraw their labour. Does the union have effective powers to enforce a strike?

polidori redux
polidori redux
10 months ago

I am curious to know how many teachers obeyed the call to withdraw their labour. Does the union have effective powers to enforce a strike?

Alan Thorpe
AT
Alan Thorpe
10 months ago

What people do not understand is that they cannot demand, through unions, what they want to be paid. The control that people have is what they are prepared to pay for goods. Then the pay that relates to that is determined. It is called a free, competitive market and until it exists there will be economic problems.

Tony Price
Tony Price
10 months ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Teaching services are not goods.

John Solomon
JS
John Solomon
10 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

What you meant is that most teaching services are no good……..

Tony Price
Tony Price
10 months ago
Reply to  John Solomon

No I didn’t.

John Solomon
JS
John Solomon
10 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

I did!

John Solomon
John Solomon
10 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

I did!

Stoater D
Stoater D
10 months ago
Reply to  John Solomon

Yes.

Tony Price
Tony Price
10 months ago
Reply to  John Solomon

No I didn’t.

Stoater D
Stoater D
10 months ago
Reply to  John Solomon

Yes.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Well observed. The commodification of everything, even when it is not a mere commodity or market good– including hospitals, schools, prisons, and highways–will remain a problem until more Americans stop idolizing the invisible hand of the almighty Market. Unfettered capitalism is a self-serving ethos or blind faith, not a proven economic reality or sufficiently humane approach to living in a society.
It is not ok to pay someone $3 an hour just because they’ve agreed to it out of stupidity or desperation or because you can get away with it under the table or whatever. Yes, I know that teachers get well above this, but let’s start with this extreme, sub-minimum-wage example.

John Solomon
John Solomon
10 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

What you meant is that most teaching services are no good……..

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  Tony Price

Well observed. The commodification of everything, even when it is not a mere commodity or market good– including hospitals, schools, prisons, and highways–will remain a problem until more Americans stop idolizing the invisible hand of the almighty Market. Unfettered capitalism is a self-serving ethos or blind faith, not a proven economic reality or sufficiently humane approach to living in a society.
It is not ok to pay someone $3 an hour just because they’ve agreed to it out of stupidity or desperation or because you can get away with it under the table or whatever. Yes, I know that teachers get well above this, but let’s start with this extreme, sub-minimum-wage example.

Tony Price
TP
Tony Price
10 months ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Teaching services are not goods.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
10 months ago

What people do not understand is that they cannot demand, through unions, what they want to be paid. The control that people have is what they are prepared to pay for goods. Then the pay that relates to that is determined. It is called a free, competitive market and until it exists there will be economic problems.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 months ago

School choice will help solve the issues with teachers unions.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
10 months ago

School choice will help solve the issues with teachers unions.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago

I thought the author’s first-person storytelling style was far more effective here than in the Lebowski essay; an interesting point-of-view from a parent who lives in Oakland and supports justice movements and better pay, to a point.
Other commenters seem offended that Mr. Feeney is not denunciatory enough in his stance toward the strikers. That he would ever support a teacher’s strike or even claim that teachers may be underpaid in America relative to other professions. That he thinks things are still uneven in America, partly according to race.
Personally, I would not be thrilled to live in a racial politics ground zero, nor romanticize the birthplace of the Black Panthers. But we shouldn’t need someone to think the exact same way in order to respect their viewpoint. Why take issue because, for example, the author doesn’t hate the very idea of reparations or striking teachers as much as you? Isn’t it nice to find points of agreement with someone who is probably slightly to the left of the American center, maybe well to the left or (a tiny but real contingent here) slightly to the right of you? Or does it just mean that while he might be right about one or two things you agree with him on, he’s still your enemy, or not enough of an ally, in some ideological Armageddon that’s been forced upon you?
Of course it’s valid to take issue with his argument or expressed politics and worldview in any way, with a bludgeon or a scalpel. I just wish fewer people on both sides of our entrenched divides were in the habit of conducting purity tests and echoing sessions to see who gets to remain in the war tent. Open the flaps!

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago

I thought the author’s first-person storytelling style was far more effective here than in the Lebowski essay; an interesting point-of-view from a parent who lives in Oakland and supports justice movements and better pay, to a point.
Other commenters seem offended that Mr. Feeney is not denunciatory enough in his stance toward the strikers. That he would ever support a teacher’s strike or even claim that teachers may be underpaid in America relative to other professions. That he thinks things are still uneven in America, partly according to race.
Personally, I would not be thrilled to live in a racial politics ground zero, nor romanticize the birthplace of the Black Panthers. But we shouldn’t need someone to think the exact same way in order to respect their viewpoint. Why take issue because, for example, the author doesn’t hate the very idea of reparations or striking teachers as much as you? Isn’t it nice to find points of agreement with someone who is probably slightly to the left of the American center, maybe well to the left or (a tiny but real contingent here) slightly to the right of you? Or does it just mean that while he might be right about one or two things you agree with him on, he’s still your enemy, or not enough of an ally, in some ideological Armageddon that’s been forced upon you?
Of course it’s valid to take issue with his argument or expressed politics and worldview in any way, with a bludgeon or a scalpel. I just wish fewer people on both sides of our entrenched divides were in the habit of conducting purity tests and echoing sessions to see who gets to remain in the war tent. Open the flaps!

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
T Bone
TB
T Bone
10 months ago

Outstanding article, Sir. It gives me alot of hope that liberals and conservatives are starting to identify the new progressive vernacular for the Motte/Bailey Bait and Switch that it is.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

This term was new to me. Thank you for this hopeful note of agreement and potential cooperation between liberals, centrists, and moderate/traditional conservatives. If you’ve read him: Do you find Nicholas Shackel to be a good, engaging writer? Wondering if paraphrases and summaries will do or if I should go to the source text.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
AJ Mac
AM
AJ Mac
10 months ago
Reply to  T Bone

This term was new to me. Thank you for this hopeful note of agreement and potential cooperation between liberals, centrists, and moderate/traditional conservatives. If you’ve read him: Do you find Nicholas Shackel to be a good, engaging writer? Wondering if paraphrases and summaries will do or if I should go to the source text.

Last edited 10 months ago by AJ Mac
T Bone
T Bone
10 months ago

Outstanding article, Sir. It gives me alot of hope that liberals and conservatives are starting to identify the new progressive vernacular for the Motte/Bailey Bait and Switch that it is.

Tony Taylor
TT
Tony Taylor
10 months ago

To plunder The Wild One:
~ What are you striking for?
~ Whaddaya got?

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
10 months ago

To plunder The Wild One:
~ What are you striking for?
~ Whaddaya got?

ben arnulfssen
BA
ben arnulfssen
10 months ago

I must admit that the only thing I know about Oakland is that it is, or was the home of Al Davis and Sonny Barger.

ben arnulfssen
ben arnulfssen
10 months ago

I must admit that the only thing I know about Oakland is that it is, or was the home of Al Davis and Sonny Barger.

Glyn R
MR
Glyn R
9 months ago

It appears that these teachers are really badly educated and quite ignorant.
The bigotry of low expectations in action.

Last edited 9 months ago by Glyn R