Right-to Work — for Less

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich have led the fight to destroy collective bargaining for public employees. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is intent on destroying private sector unions and making Indiana a right-to-work state — many people leave off “for less” at the end of right-to-work. Nothing has yet been heard if the residents of these three states have had their heads examined for holes for electing these very destructive men to their respective states’ highest elective office.

One of the best indicators that we live in an Orwellian nation is that right-to-work is presented as a job-creation strategy. Oklahoma thought it was being a “smarty-pants” by adopting right-to-work. In the ten years after the adoption of right-to-work, manufacturing jobs in the state fell by one-third. Surveys of manufacturers confirm that right-to-work is not a significant draw, as in a 2010 survey, manufacturers ranked it sixteenth among factors affecting location decisions.

Gordon Lafer, a professor specializing in organized labor issues, says that the impact of right-to-work is to lower average income by about $1,500 a year and to decrease the odds of getting health insurance or a pension through your job.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is very comfortable with political indoctrination when it comes to reinforcing a state’s right-to-work status; however, it doesn’t want any independent workers’ union exercising any political role in the workplace.

President Barack Obama is unlikely to be a formidable foe of right-to-work in a possible second term, as he has done very little to defend collective bargaining or promote the growth of organized labor in his first term. He had promised in the 2008 presidential campaign to put on a comfortable pair of shoes and march against any attempt to destroy collective bargaining, but when the test came in Wisconsin and Ohio, he failed it.

Right-to-work has an insidious effect on the educational performance of U.S. students. One of the reasons that U.S. students perfrom so poorly when matched against students from the other industrialized nations is that the students in right-to-work states drag down the national average. The lower teacher salaries in right-to-work states fail to attract the best-qualified teachers. Unionized teachers are the norm in other industrialized nations.

       Basing Teacher Evaluations on Student Test Scores

In a prior blog on education I made the point that it it is unfair to unduly base teacher evaluations on student test scores. I neglected to include what I consider to be the best study on this matter. The study, labeled “Withering Opportunity,” found that the achievement gap between children from high- and low-income families is 30 to 40 percent higher among children born in the last decade than among those born 25 years earlier (as noted in the report, the family has more influence on a student’s performance than either school or community.) The message is that to the extent that education determines future economic status, if you are born poor, the chances are you’ll remain poor.

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