America is the richest nation in history, but ask young American students from whom their country won its independence, and the answers include Japan, China, and Canada. For decades our education standards have paled in comparison with those of other industrial and even Third World countries, while education costs have risen inexorably. The fact that our schools are in shambles has been the subject of endless debate, and the explanations have run the gamut: teachers are underpaid; students are undisciplined; teaching methods are wrong. But until now, no one has persuasively identified the root problem: the teacher unions.
It is no coincidence that the thirty-year decline in U.S. K-12 education, and the simultaneous surge in education spending, began at the same time that the modern teacher unions were created. Today, the biggest union in the country is the National Education Association, which has nearly 3 million members. Its agenda is not to provide better teaching in schools; it is to provide more money and benefits for teachers -- and, above all, for itself. It accomplishes this through collective bargaining muscle and by buying political influence. Even worse, the unions want to turn curriculum, textbooks, and grading standards into bargaining chips in labor negotiations.
In this devastating critique, Peter Brimelow exposes the teacher unions for what they are: a political and economic monopoly that is choking the education system, like the "trusts" that put a stranglehold on American business a hundred years ago. Until the unions are held accountable, and public schools opened up to market forces, no education reform, no matter how worthy, will succeed. It is time, Brimelow convincingly argues, to bust the Teacher Trust.
The Worm in the Apple paints an alarming picture of the bureaucratic parasite that has taken hold of our schools. It issues a clarion call to rescue students, parents, taxpayers and, not least, teachers -- from its grip.