A lot of otherwise liberal people really hate teachers’ unions. I’ve been wondering why they’re so singled out for contempt. It struck me last night that perhaps the thinking is that it’s ok for autoworkers or janitors to unionize because they’re pretty much interchangeable from an educated upper-middle-class perspective. Teachers, though, are supposed to be “professionals,” and any kind of solidarity among them offends an individualistic, meritocratic sensibility that believes in (often “objective”) measures of evaluation.
But even “professionals” can be pushed around by bosses and need solidarity to prevent being exploited and insulted. Most of us are workers, even those with advanced degrees. Downward mobility is moving up the income ladder, and some antiquated notions of a professional exemption need to be revised – though vanity and self-deception might slow the process of revision.