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50 U. Louisville L. Rev. 201 (2011-2012)
The State of our Unions: How President Obama's Education Reforms Threaten the Working Class

handle is hein.journals/branlaj50 and id is 205 raw text is: THE STATE OF OUR UNIONS: HOW PRESIDENT
Monica Teixeira de Sousa*
The teachers' union vs. reformer divide is catchy for journalists,
because it fits into a familiar narrative of might vs. right,  but
teachers' unions were created for a reason - because teachers were paid
less than people who washed cars for a living and were bossed around by
autocratic principals. Seeking to obliterate collective bargaining
agreements is something out of Wal-Mart's handbook and ought not win
you a puffpiece from Time.'
If the right-wing educational reforms now being championed by the
Obama administration and many state governments continue
unchallenged, America will become a society in which a highly trained,
largely white elite will continue to command the techno-information
revolution, while a vast, low-skilled majority ofpoor and minority workers
will be relegated to filling the McJobs proliferating in the service sector.
The children of the rich and privilege [sic] will be educated in exclusive
C 2011, Monica Teixeira de Sousa. All rights reserved. Associate Professor of Law at New
England Law I Boston. I wish to thank my colleagues at New England Law I Boston and our Faculty
Development Committee for the opportunity to present and test my ideas. I am very grateful to Dean John
O'Brien for the generous summer stipend I received to research this project I am also very appreciative of the
assistance I received from Anita Chase who so kindly obtained numerous sources for me through interlibrary
loan. I wish to thank the University of Louisville Law Review Volume So Editorial Board and Members. For
excellent research assistance, I thank Josiah Curtis and Michael Berwanger. I'm always and especially grateful to
Damieta, Joio, Patrick, and Henry for their love and support.
' Richard Kahlenberg, The Best and Worst in Education - 2008, TAKING NOTE: A CENTURY
FouND. GRP. BLOG (Dec. 22, 2008), http://takingnote.tef.org/2008/12/the-best-and-worst-in-education-
2008.html. Kahlenberg's Time reference is to Michelle Rhee, the superintendent of D.C. public schools,
who was pictured on the cover of Time magazine holding a broom because of her effort to rid schools of
teachers she perceived to be ineffective. The teachers' union was also a target of Rhee's aggressive
reform agenda; it was depicted as an obstacle to student achievement. See Amanda Ripley, How to Fix
America's Schools, TIME, Dec. 8, 2008, at 1. Kahlenberg's quote can also be applied to Rhode Island
Commissioner of Education, Deborah Gist, who was also rewarded with a puff piece from Time for
supporting the mass firings of the entire staff of the sole high school in Central Falls, the state's poorest
city. See Amanda Ripley, Deborah Gist, TIME (100 ISSUE), Apr. 29, 2010, at 112. It is very important to
note that prior to unionization, teachers were indeed paid less than people who washed cars for a living.
Dennis Gaffiey's Teachers United discusses the fact that the New York Times ran an editorial in the
1950s, titled Teach or Wash Cars, in which it was asked why anyone would opt to teach when
teachers earned $8 less per week than they would if they had chosen to wash cars for a living. See


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