Don't Blame Teachers Unions for School Problems in Texas

| Mon Apr. 9, 2012 11:01 AM EDT

Paul Krugman is exasperated:

A good article in the Times about the terrible state of Texas schools — followed by a truly awful comment thread, in which many readers rush to blame, you guessed it, teachers’ unions.

Folks, this isn’t an article about New York, where three-quarters of public-sector workers are unionized. It’s about Texas, where only one in five public workers belongs to a union. Blaming unions for the problems of Texas is like, well, blaming Jews for the problems of Japan: there aren’t enough of them to matter.

Actually, it's worse than that. If these guys are to be believed — and they're trying to make look unions look as bad as possible, so I suppose they are — the unionization rate of Texas teachers is 1.8%. Don't any of the folks commenting on this piece remember the boomlet last year in articles comparing California to Texas, all of them claiming that the "Texas miracle" was largely due to its red-blooded, non-unionized workforce?

If you want to have problems with teachers unions, go ahead. They're hardly above criticism. But our educational system isn't any better in states with weak or nonexistent teachers unions. In a lot of cases, it's worse.