Erika Sanzi asks some key questions of the Providence Teachers Union, but the last one cuts right to the heart of unionization, at least in the public sector:
Will the union stand in the way of eliminating the arbitrary barriers to entry into the teaching profession so that we can begin to build a long overdue talent pipeline to include people who come to teaching via an alternative pathway?
The application of some simple logic finds the reason the union will likely answer “yes” to this question — meaning “yes, we will stand in the way” — until absolutely forced to moderate. The union’s primary value proposition to its members is that it will gain them privileges and security. The teachers to whom this protection is most valuable are those with the least capacity to fend for themselves and gather their own leverage.
The more talented a teacher is, and the more experience he or she has in other environments than government schools, the less he or she needs the union as leverage against management and the more independent he or she will be as a union member (or bargaining unit member if he or she does not join the union).
Imagine a flood of conspicuously competent people — driven by the mission of turning Providence around and enabled by the extremely desirable compensation packages that government unions have secured — entering the system as full participants. Not only would those new teachers refuse to stand for the union’s obstruction of the mission’s success, but they would present a stark contrast to the most dedicated union members, who should predictably be the ones with the most need for union protection.