Tuesday, April 14, 2015

David Berliner's Views on the Teaching Profession

Asked recently about his views on teacher associations, David Berliner, Regents' Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University, had this to say:
When a profession as large and necessary to society as teaching is insulted by state and federal Secretaries of Education, judged negatively by the nation's presidents and governors, see their pensions cut, receive salaries that do not keep up with inflation, often cannot afford to live in the communities they work in, cannot always practice their profession in ways that are ethical and efficacious, are asked to support policies that may do harm to children, are judged by student test scores that are insensitive to instruction and more often reflect social class differences rather than instructional quality, see public monies used to support discriminatory charter and private schools, yet still have a great deal of support from the parents of the children they teach, then there is a strategy for making teachers' lives better. It is called unionization. The reasons for unionization could not be plainer. New and veteran teachers should band together and close down school systems of the type I have described. It will be difficult, of course, and some teachers will no doubt be fired and jailed. But if teachers do not fix this once noble profession, America may well lose its soul, as well as its edge.
The Teacher Educator, 50, (1), 2-3.

Gene V Glass
Arizona State University
National Education Policy Center
University of Colorado Boulder

The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of the National Education Policy Center, Arizona State University, nor the University of Colorado Boulder.


  1. Get serious, guys. Each of the clauses in the monster sentence warrants serious attention, but advising teachers to "band together and close down school systems" is not a reasoned "strategy for making teachers' lives better." The strategy would likely net teachers nothing more than loss of ' "support from the parents of the children they teach."

    Worry about losing America's soul and edge while unions are losing membership and income seems misplaced concern.

  2. Dick Schutz: I've "bumped into" you before at Fordham Institute. You seem to like to take a stand that supports the people who are attempting to dismantle public education. The largest coalition ere built in education was with Title I -- we need that kind of a coalition with parents; it also requires teachers to work with unions such as machinists etc. Perhaps you never read Schattsschneider's semi-sovereign government and how it works? And I do believe strongly that my activism is necessary to support public schools and the profession that I entered … there are mean-spirited people who are not well-intentioned and they gather with some well-intentioned people who have been "bought off"… despicable how money and politics are destroying the traditional values of this country.

  3. Dick Schutz I've bumped into you before on the Fordham Institute blogs/articles. Again , you and I are in vast disagreement. There are mean-spirited individuals and they have gathered together some well-intentioned people and "bought out" the professional organizations. I have written to you before about how the R&D process has been corrupted with greed and power and monody. Your own personal interests seem to be most important to you and your corporation -- I am concerned about public education and the purposeful attempts to destroy a profession.

  4. Sounds like a reasoned strategy to me.

  5. You lost me with the introduction of the "When a profession as large....", in that, in light of [so-called] "educators" forming themselves into blue-collar unions - and the way they behaved within that formation - it's no longer a "profession" that's being spoken of.....no matter how much "teachers" would like to consider themselves as such.

    Face it; today, they're just another group of hogs trying to angle their way to the trough, and "profession" be damned.

  6. Hmm. Per the blog: New and veteran teachers should band together and close down school systems

    My view is that this "strategy" is a fantasy that would likely doom the teacher unions (Think of the air controllers union) and lose parental support.

    I'm a life long supporter of unions and public schools, and I've opposed all of the elements of the misguided attack on teachers, unions, and public schools, but that's beside the point.

    Teacher unions are losing membership and income. It seems me that's a real concern in contrast to the quixotic expectation that teachers can, and should be expected to, save America's "soul" and keep it's "edge."

    What am I missing?