Mike - sorry about the argument - and it's a familiar one for me - even hear it from teachers - and those who present the argument that unions are the problem are really not familiar with the history of why teachers took up unions, back in the 30's.
however, the bigger difficulty for me is that people suggest a single cause and effect answer for why schools are in trouble - and historically schools have always been in trouble.
this is just off the top of my head - i'll go back to the article for direct answers to your questions - and they're great questions.
From: email@example.com on behalf of Mike Cole
Sent: Fri 1/5/2007 4:33 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: [xmca] Cobb & McClain from a different perspective
Last night I had dinner with an early mentor and friend, Dick Atkinson, who
was head of NSF, UCSD, and UC overall and has taken a lot of
interest in things educational.
We got into an argument about school reforms and Dick, a strong advocate of
charter schools and variety creating mechanisms opined that
"The problem was the unions."
I argued that indeed, in some configurations of circumstances made unions
uncooperative with supervisor's grand schemes. Allan Bursin steamrolling
reforms in San Diego was an example.
But, I also argued, that when reforms were organized in a proper manner,
unions were NOT a problem and in fact, might be an important part of the
I have sent him the Cobb and McClain piece to think about.
Question: What was the role of the unions in the case presented by Cobb and
McClain? What does their experience teach us about dealing with draconian
accountability schemes and "better" school as tightening the screws that
hold together the iron cage??
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