When schools are persistently failing, reformers look for scapegoats (“An Education Horror Show,” The Wall Street Journal, Jul. 8). This was last seen in Providence, where the teachers union was blamed for the fact that the longer students remain in schools there the worse their performance.
But if teachers unions are indeed responsible for the appalling outcomes of some schools, then why do nine of the top-ten ranked states have strong teachers unions? Conversely, why do eight of the 10 states ranked at the bottom have weak teachers unions?
I’m aware that correlation is not causation, but in this case the situation is too striking to be dismissed as such. The Coleman Report that was released in 1966 confirms my belief. It concluded that the quality of schools attended has little to do with the difference on average in achievement between black and white students. Instead, Coleman pointed the finger at the socioeconomic backgrounds of students as the reason.
If teachers unions were abolished tomorrow, there would be little, if any, difference in outcomes. But they make such easy targets.
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