Grey Clouds Looming Over Education: Is There a Bright Future? (by Guest Blogger Meaghan McHill)

charter vs private vs publicThere is a lot of tension hovering over education in regards with Charter schools. They are privately owned, publicly funded schools that require an application to be filled in order to attend the school. If the school receives an abundance of applications, there is a lottery or a random choice of the applicants.

The film The Lottery was focused on the Harlem Zone charter schools, which were shown to be successful. It showcased four families who are waiting for the lottery day to see if their child will be going to the charter schools in the upcoming school year.  Out of hundreds who apply, there is only a small amount of applicants that get picked, leaving the rest to go to their zoned schools, which they are not happy with. In the film, the charter schools are the way for their children to get the best education.

What I liked about the film was that it showed that a focus on one-on-one, teacher-student time is essential to helping children learn. Also, the film showed that the current way that traditional public schools are forced to teach is not working and that something needs to be done so that EVERYONE can get a good education.

What I didn’t like was that the film was biased and had an agenda. There was a huge emphasis on how horrible teacher unions were and how they acted thuggish. There were complaints on the film about how the teacher union contracts are not allowing the charter schools to do what they want. It made me wonder what is so horribly wrong about unions, about having certain standards that teachers need to fulfill, and what was so wrong with having teacher’s wages be nonnegotiable?

I do agree that this education structure needs to be adjusted, but not replaced. As a product of public education, I can honestly say that my experience with the public education system have been fruitful and there is no way that someone can point out the main reason why public education isn’t working because it is incredibly complex and there are many different reasons that build up to the dwindling school system. The only way to truly fix our system is to invest in infrastructure, to invest in the education of our children, future and current.


My questions: Do teacher unions play a crucial part in our lacking educational system? Do you think that they are blocking progression?

(Picture source:


6 thoughts on “Grey Clouds Looming Over Education: Is There a Bright Future? (by Guest Blogger Meaghan McHill)

  1. I don’t know much about teacher unions either and I have no idea where I’d even start looking to research them. I have yet to see that movie either but I’ve meant to. I like that you point out what you liked and what you didn’t like about the film. Sounds like the film was really in favor of charter schools and glorifying them. Zapoura mentioned that about charter schools; that their original role was to work with public schools in making education but this film seems to be making public schools look like they are too far gone and that we should give up on trying to make them better. I don’t believe that a public school reform would be a bad start and to give power to teacher’s voices, the administration, and even the students and parents. I think that there is just not enough time, money, and effort going into the education system. Maybe that should be the focus…

  2. I don’t know a whole lot about teacher’s unions either. What I think I know can be summed up in about three sentences. Teacher’s unions make it difficult for teachers to get fired. Teachers unions help teachers get better pay and benefits they deserve. And unions seem to encourage strikes which tend to be annual events. These three things come from watching the news and hearing teachers talk about unions occasionally. To answer your question, (by not really answering it) I don’t know if they play a part in the short comings of the educational system. I assume they could since they have some power and come up quite often when education is discussed, but it’s hard to tell since they don’t appear to directly influence our schooling system. Perhaps it’s just hard for me to tell because I’m not well versed on the subject.

  3. I have seen The Lottery and I found it to be quite interesting. The work that they are doing in Harlem is incredible and I feel like its really changing some people’s lives. With that being said, I don’t think it’s a system that could be implemented every where in the U.S. I’m not very well informed when it comes to teachers unions but I think there could be some cause for concern about teachers wages being non-negotiable. Some people believe that teachers should be paid for how well they teach. I don’t think this should be based off test scores and in fact I have no idea how this would be implemented. But, I do know there is a difference between a really good teacher and a really bad teacher, so maybe they shouldn’t be paid the same? There is a tenure track in place to remedy this situation I suppose. Anyway, I’m glad that you talked about The Lottery because I think it’s an interesting documentary for people interested in education to check out.

    • Just a note on tenured positions: as far as I know, they were created during the Cold War to keep professors from being fired on political grounds (because of their opinions, among other things). I am not sure if that is right, but I do know that tenure very often protects bad professors and teachers, and this is a problem. Particularly in public schools, where the Federal Government has a say in the curriculum. My logic is that, if there is a content that must be taught because that’s federally determined, why should the government protect teachers from deviating from such a content? Wouldn’t it be way cheaper if the Feds didn’t have guidelines about what is appropriate to be discussed in a public school (shouldn’t parents and the community be the ones who determine that?)?
      Of course I am not suggesting teachers should be fired because they disagree with curriculum. I am saying that it is inoperant to be protected by the same people who would be causing the problems you have in the first place. From an economic point of view, it sounds like a waste of money.

  4. I think teacher unions are bad and good, they can be beneficial in the way that they help teachers get the pay and benefits that they deserve but can also be bad because they make it very hard to fire teachers who are not meeting the standards and need to be replaced. This goes along wit tenure as well, I think teachers should be evaluated and judged on their success in the classroom, some teachers need to be out of the system and they shouldn’t have to do something repulsive to get looked at, and questioned.

  5. NO, i don’t think that teacher unions are the sole reason that schools are failing, but i definitely think that they do have a large part in it. I have done a lot of research of teacher unions and there is a lot of tension where they are concerned. They do fight for tenure, which makes it difficult for schools to fire a teacher who is not performing well. They also fight against merit pay, which is pay based on performance rather than how long a teacher has been at a job. I also feel that teacher unions have way too much politcal power. They make huge contriobutions to politcal campaigns at the national and state level, more than 3 times any corporation. Don’t get me wrong, teacher unions have done so much good when it comes to schools and teachers as well as students. But i feel that they have too much power anymore and because of that, they are hurting the schools today. But like i said before, teacher unions are just a small part of it, there are so many other variables affecting the schools and students today.

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