What Republicans and Teachers Unions Have In Common

One thing Democrats find so infuriating about the economic arguments of Republicans is that from 2001-2008 we more or less got to test out the validity of those arguments, and they proved to be relatively invalid. Yet Mitch McConnell still makes statements that begin, “If we want strong economic growth, we have to….” He does this even though U.S. economic performance during the Bush presidency weakens his credibility and suggests he does not actually know how to induce strong economic growth.

Like Republicans, teachers unions also spent a chunk of recent history in charge — until a few years ago, there were 20-30 consecutive years where almost no change to our education system was made without their approval. Like Republicans, teachers unions also don’t seem to think that the insufficient progress made under their watch should open doors for other ideas. The solution is always more of what unions think is right and less of what they think is wrong. Union leaders still make statements that begin with, “If we want better schools, we need to….” Like McConnell, they make these statements even though our educational outcomes over the last 30 years weaken their credibility and suggest that unions do not actually know how to create better schools.

None of this is to say that union ideas and opinions should not be taken into account, but like the GOP on economic issues, union rhetoric is absurdly vile, unrestrained, and disconnected from reality. (Unions may point to very recent history and say the lack of progress of is because of the reforms they hate rather than a lack of them, but changing an education system is not like tax policy — it takes 10-15 years to implement changes and see the effects.)

Obviously Republicans and union officials aren’t going to change their minds about taxes and charter schools overnight. When you’ve believed something your whole life, admitting you were wrong is simply too damaging to your perceived self-worth and self-esteem. But perhaps the realization that they’re engaging in the same tactics they despise in their sworn political enemies may finally be enough to start a shift in beliefs.


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