Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Drum Dumb

Regarding Mickey Kaus's (excellent) LA Times op-ed, Kevin Drum writes in Mother Jones,

You know, the first area of the country to ditch public schools en masse was....the South. And the area of the country with the weakest teachers unions is....the South.

Speaking as a 100%-public-school-educated native of Alabama, this statement is completely risible.

The Alabama Education Association is and has long been one of the "big mules" in state politics. Just one easy example: for generations, Alabama's spring break has been universally known as "AEA Week," in honor of the annual union conference held in Birmingham while the schools are closed.

Paul Hubbard, the AEA's long-time boss, is one of the most formidable figures in Alabama politics, and the AEA spends millions in union dues on (always Democratic) political contributions. My eighth-grade history teacher (an incompetent twit) made it a point to rant to her class early and often that any candidate opposed by the AEA had "no chance" of winning an election in Alabama.

Just last month, in Baja Alabama, the 'weak' Florida Education Association had enough clout to convince Charlie Crist to (a) veto a popular education reform bill that the union hated and (b) run as an independent with the clear aim of using the FEA as his base of support.

Now, I'm morally certain that Kevin Drum doesn't know and didn't bother to research any of those things (obviously other than Crist's very public actions), but it was just too easy of a cheap shot to pick on "the South" as a (RACIST!) source of all bad things for the Mother Jones readership. Just another good example of the Left's penchant for indulging in its own bigotries.

Full disclosure: I donated $20 to Mickey's campaign a few weeks back.


  1. Will,

    As if Mr. Drum had time for any of that stuff like research or reading background material. Ha!

  2. Meanwhile, my question is, "When did we ditch public schools en masse?" Speaking as a 100% public-school educated Tennesseean (and on the local PTA now in W. Va.), I've known hardly anybody who went to a private school. Sure, there are private schools around, but ditching them en masse?

  3. I'm from Texas. When did we ditch public schools en masse?

    Geez. Facts are pesky, are they not?

  4. By the way, speaking of the relative weakness of teachers' unions, I'm afraid Drum is right. Despite how strong these unions are (they certainly are in Alabama), the teachers unions are weaker in the South. My point being that if the weakest teachers unions can pull off their offensive behavior in Florida and Alabama, what does that mean for the children of places like New York and Illinois.

    I leave it as an exercise for the reader to answer that with a bit of research. Hint: things really suck up North.

  5. Geeze! What's wrong with you people! Haven't you yet learned that the Bi-Coastal Elites know everything about everything? Oh, and when they're dead wrong - they aren't.

  6. Ah, I think Drum is saying that we are stupid. Nothing to do with public school or private school, just a chance to get a cheap shop in. The south is consistantly against socialistic policies he seems to favor, therefore we must be stupid. Following the Obamacare meme that we would like it if we just understood it, the reason we're stupid is that we ditched education.

  7. Teachers unions in the south are weaker for the same reasons all unions in the south are weaker: 1) these are, for the most part, right-to-work states, and 2) southerners, in general, are less inclined to support unions to begin with. Many teachers in Texas don't join the two "big" unions in this state: either the TSTA, or Texas AFT, and they get little grief when they don't join.

    So says this Texas public-school educated, public university educated (on full academic scholarship thanks to the quality of my public primary and secondary education) former student.

  8. "Baja Alabama" -- I like that! I'm tired of "Redneck Riviera".

  9. Gee, my mom would be surprised to learn that she spent 30 years in AL teaching in a non-existent public school classroom... and getting paid for it.

  10. Why does anyone read Drum? I would have thought he'd lost whatever cred he had at the time when, still writing on his own at Cal-pundit, about how credible Bill Burkett was as the source for Rathergate.

    How on earth did he get to write for The Atlantic and now Mother Jones?

  11. Teachers unions are both less prevalent *and* less powerful in the South than in most other regions of the country. And white flight from urban schools began in the South before it spread to other regions. This isn't a comment on anything other than these facts. And they are facts, I'm afraid.

    (There have been a couple of pieces of research trying to find correlations between the strength of teachers unions and the quality of educational outcomes. Result: mixed, but basically zero. It just doesn't seem to make any difference.)

    But Paul Hogue is right. I never should have trusted a work Bill Burkett said. But I atoned for that long ago.

    I've never written a word for the Atlantic, though.

  12. I must have missed the memo; where is there ANY area of the country that has abandoned public schools en masse?

  13. To:kdrum58. You said, "And white flight from urban schools began in the South before it spread to other regions." I hail from Baton Rouge, LA. East Baton Rouge Parish School District. I have been segregated, integrated, and forcibly bussed to an inner city school. When you or your children are taken from your neighborhood school and bussed two hours to an inner city school, then you can talk about Southerners abandoning the school system. Only whites are bussed, blacks are allowed to choose between their neighborhood school or the suburban school of their choice. Every year the (white) kids are shuffled, so that even if a child makes a friend in the inner city school, she doesn't know what school she will be in the next year. It's still the law. In the implementation of this all deference is made to the 'black community'. For instance, when school rolls dropped due to parents dislike of the two hour plus bus rides, the district decided to close a school to save money. It was suggested that an older, unpopular, energy inefficient inner city school be closed, but the blacks (black community) complained, so a new suburban school was closed instead. Whites were consistently told to shut up, not allowed input, etc. oh, and that just by complaining, we were RACIST RACIST RACIST. (Sigh).

  14. > Many teachers in Texas don't join the two "big" unions in this state: either the TSTA, or Texas AFT, and they get little grief when they don't join.

    When should someone get grief for refusing to join a union?