In the critically acclaimed documentary Waiting for Superman, teachers unions are given a large slice of the blame for the systemic problems in America's public schools.
It’s a narrative echoed in current public dialogue, and you don’t have to look very hard to find it. Governors in Wisconsin and Indiana are looking to strip public sector workers, including teachers, of their collective bargaining rights, and last week Rhode Island’s state government gave termination notices to all of its teachers as a warning that they could lose their jobs come fall.
By way of concession the American Federation of Teachers, a union that represents nearly 1.5 million educators, has proposed changing the way their members are evaluated and dismissed.
But there are some who question whether teachers and their unions deserve to be so much in the spotlight.
Education researcher Charles Payne spoke to colleagues at the University of Chicago in January and took issue with the way that the national discourse about education has been framed around the question of teachers unions.
In the audio excerpt posted above, he takes aim at Waiting for Superman and outlines what he sees as the consequences for such an argument.