Union Chief: Bad Teachers Just Struggling

Published December 1, 1997

Responding to Redbook’s September 1997 article about “incompetent, lazy, or even downright abusive” teachers protected by unions, National Education Association president Bob Chase said that the piece did a disservice to the nation’s more than 2.5 million experienced and committed public school teachers. In the face of the magazine’s stinging criticism, Chase admitted only that there are some teachers who are “struggling.” (See “Redbook Blasts Unions for Bad Teachers,” School Reform News, October 1997.)

While Chase complained that the article was “inflammatory” and “alarmist,” an Illinois teacher wrote to agree with the article’s key point, that “Undoubtedly, there are poor examples within the teaching ranks, and tenure reform is needed.” Another respondent, a parent of two boys, thought that living in a nice community with high taxes would mean good schools and good teachers, but instead found teachers who were “burned out, played head games, yelled, and put down students.”

“Our children only have one life to lead,” she wrote. She transferred her own children to private schools.