I’m with The New Republic in favoring efforts to make it easier to fire employees at the inept DC Public Schools central administrative office. I don’t, howeve,r see why one would frame the issue this way:
Only three members of the 13-person board–one of them was Marion Barry–sided against Rhee. In short, the sclerotic establishment can no longer count on its old political patrons. And her victory was an important object lesson for other cities: Reformers can now battle the teachers’ unions–and trounce them.
Back in the real world, this was a pretty mild reform limited to non-union employees. The public sector unions are bound to oppose it, of course, but the proposal was designed to minimize opposition, thus maximizing the odds of it passing and something useful actually getting done for DC kids. Framing every reform effort as a death blow to the unions seems like a good way to make sure reform efforts fail. Meanwhile, the reality is that the Washington Teachers Union is a relatively weak union. People know that DCPS is a low-performing system by big city standards, and people “know” that strong teachers unions are responsible for urban school systems being bad, so it just must be the case that DC’s schools are bad because of a super-strong union.