Critic Takes On Teachers` Unions As Enemies Of Good Schools

The Richmond

The Worm in the Apple: How the Teacher Unions Are
Destroying American Education

The Weekly Standard; Washington; Mar 24,
2003; Jonathan Leaf;

The Worm in the Apple
: How the Teacher Unions Are
Destroying American Education
by Peter Brimelow
(HarperCollins, 320 pp., $24.95).

Education these days, someone once
declared, is "casting false pearls before real
Why are contemporary students so poor? In
The Worm in the Apple, journalist Peter Brimelow makes
the case that teachers` unions have hijacked our
education system and, increasingly, our legislative
organs as well. Brimelow acknowledges that some public
schools still function with competence-but that
achievement is sporadic and realized only through ever
rising spending. Declining schools, he says, reflect
sclerotic socialism compounded by out-of-control

Brimelow is a punchy writer with a
compelling, natural voice. His argument in The Worm in
the Apple isn`t novel, but the weight of new and damning
examples makes the book important. He cites, for
instance, repeated occasions on which teachers` unions
have taken over the school boards responsible for
negotiating their contracts. He shows the virtual
impossibility of firing incompetent, lazy, and
recalcitrant teachers. He reveals the ways in which
union clout compels useless staffing. He documents the
billions of dollars unions have spent on campaigns
against school choice and reform of requirements for
starting teachers-and the billions the unions make from
dubious insurance schemes for their members.

A nation`s fate derives at least as
much from its schools as from its armies. Why, Brimelow
asks, do we allow this scandal to persist?

-Jonathan Leaf  

Copyright Weekly Standard Mar 24,