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Teachers unions are not all bad


The author of Tuesday’s commentary in The Daily Targum on the leadership of Gov. Chris Christie was truly disheartening. Time and time again, people choose to criticize New Jersey’s teaching system and the quality of public education here without really knowing much about it. The author claims teachers unions are “eroding the quality of public education” and cites the tenure system as problematic. While I agree somewhat with the tenure comment, I could not help but roll my eyes at the one about unions. That argument is getting stale. She goes on to talk about how Christie really won her over with his defense of the Islam. I applaud our governor for doing so, and I am glad the author has a religious ally in Christie. But that’s no excuse to criticize the N.J. public education system using feeble and ill-researched arguments. Just call a spade a spade and say you like him because he stands up for Islam.

My mother has been a public school teacher in New Jersey for more than 20 years and has been a union representative for quite a few of them. The purpose of a union is to maintain or improve the quality of a job. While they champion better conditions for people like my mother — conditions the author might not personally agree with — they are hardly the reason for the decline of public schools in our state. It’s public school administrators who are the real problem in this situation. It’s also the No Child Left Behind Act, former President George W. Bush’s severely misguided education reform. We have too many public school administrators who are paid way too much money, and we have teachers who are held to the ridiculous and educationally unhelpful standards of NCLB. It forces many teachers to “teach to the test,” and instead of actually learning, students are reduced to rote memorization in order to pass the ludicrous number of state tests they are forced to take. Nothing is going to change in N.J. public schools until the problems with administrators and NCLB are addressed. In the meantime, I urge people to take a step back and appreciate the fact that public school teachers arguably have the most important job in the world. They are educating the youth of the world so that those children can one day take charge as leaders. A lot of us are at the University today because of the hard work of N.J. public school teachers. Before we lambaste their jobs and the unions that protect them, let’s do a little more research in order to discover the true problems at hand.

Leena Meola is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in English with a minor in American studies.

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