Norm Coleman. Education reform. Those terms don't fit together, do they? But, as a former teacher, I'm offended to see Coleman's Minnesota Action Network buying post-election TV ad air time to paint those protective, head-in-the-sand teachers unions as the bad guys who are keeping good, young teachers out of parents' children's classrooms through teacher tenure rules, which protect seniority through the LIFO (last in, first out) lay-off rules.
A flat out attack on teachers unions....
No one in his ad ever says that the senior teacher next door probably did just as exceptional work with his/her students, or that many of our jobs actually value the long-time, experienced staffer as having learned to do their work well and efficiently, and being able to provide guidance and mentorship to the new, young, inexperienced employee. No, in teacher circles, somehow it's best to be 24, in your first or second year on the job, full of bright, young ideas and most importantly, energy and the presumed ability to better-relate to the kids. As opposed to "old" mom or grandma figures in the classroom, who are over-paid, unable to relate to the kids, stuck in a rut, lazy or energy-less, and brainwashed into thinking the teacher's union is the only thing standing in the way of the principal or superintendent firing their sorry ass, so that the school can keep that new, energetic, less-well-paid instructor.
Teacher tenure and seniority rules are part of paying your dues - figuratively and literally. Teachers aren't constantly looking over their shoulders, fearing repercussions from the powerful parents or political elements in their community. Teachers aren't constantly in fear of someone "not liking" their style, their comments, their manner of dress, their religious or sexual preferences, or their participation - or lack thereof - in school or community activities.
Teacher unions have helped create a professionalism in the workplace, and have strengthened the middle class through better pay and benefits - which are often jealously resented by those less fortunate who see themselves as taxpayers giving these wages and benefits to others, instead of paying less taxes out of their own pockets.
Norm Coleman and his MN Action Network are only multiplying those resentments through this misguided and unfortunate ad campaign. It's sad that this passes for mainstream Republican policy these days.