Just one anecdote, of many, from this outstanding Steven Brill article in the New Yorker on NYC's public schools and their radically unionized teachers. The room in question is one of the union-mandated "Rubber Rooms" where incompetent and/or misbehaving teachers are stored (at full pay) while their cases are ajudicated per their contracts:
The walls of the large, rectangular room were covered with photographs of Barack Obama and various news clippings. Just to the right of a poster that proclaimed “Bloomberg’s 3 Rs: Rubber Room Racism,” a smiling young woman sat in a lounge chair that she had brought from home. She declined to say what the charges against her were or to allow her name to be used, but told me that she was there “because I’m a smart black woman.”
I asked the woman for her reaction to the following statement: “If a teacher is given a chance or two chances or three chances to improve but still does not improve, there’s no excuse for that person to continue teaching. I reject a system that rewards failure and protects a person from its consequences.”
“That sounds like Klein and his accountability bullshit,” she responded. “We can tell if we’re doing our jobs. We love these children.” After I told her that this was taken from a speech that President Obama made last March, she replied, “Obama wouldn’t say that if he knew the real story.”
Read the whole thing; it's a remarkable piece. What's far more remarkable to me, though, is where it was published. Fifteen or so years ago, you'd only see this kind of critical reporting of a teacher's union in conservative-leaning magazines like Forbes. Seeing an article this tough on what it calls "the [Democratic] the Party’s most powerful support group" in the New Yorker almost gives me... what was that word?
Oh yeah: hope.