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Publisher: HarperCollins / Perennial
Release Date: January 20, 2004
ISBN: 0060096624
Format Reviewed: Paperback
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Genre: Nonfiction / Education
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Brenda Weeaks
Reviewer Notes:

The Worm in the Apple
How the Teacher Unions Are Destroying American Education
By Peter Brimelow

      Brimelow begins his candid exposé on the National Education Association with a little history. The NEA, created in 1857, "was" a professional association concerned with "standards, ethics, and educational techniques" [preface]. Its original goal was improving America's education. So where did they get lost? The author tells us it was during the 1960s. The NEA morphed into a labor union, after removing school administrators from its membership and becoming competitively obsessed with the American Federation of Teachers. This was also when Kennedy issued an executive order allowing collective bargaining for federal employees, mind you, "in exchange for labor union support" [preface]. Because of these changes, Brimelow concludes that our educational system has been failing our children ever since.

      Brimelow begins with NEA's 1999 annual meeting. It reads like a political train wreck, and is the perfect start in proving his point. Throughout the book, Brimelow shows the NEA's move from reading, writing, and arithmetic to such things as self-preservation, politics, and political correctness books and class atmosphere. Brimelow names names, places blame, dishes numbers, and exposes past and present union leaders. His eye-opening facts are riveting as he relays various accounts in trying to prove the absurdity of the union's control. For example, a Connecticut Teachers Association filed a grievance demanding pay for the additional two minutes a week the union claimed teachers worked that year; a Pennsylvania association filed a grievance against the school district because coffee and doughnuts were not provided during a training day; a New York "Deaf" school being forced to keep teachers who couldn't sign; and a Washington local union shot down a superintendent's need to alter school starting time for special education students because some teachers would have daycare problems. It goes on and on….

       Brimelow doesn't dish the dirt only to leave readers wound up. The last chapter, "A Twenty-four Point Wish List," is well thought out and well written. Recommendations are aimed at improving education, protecting teachers, and parents' rights -- all minus an expensive, dominating union.

   “The Worm in the Apple is the kind of book that demands reaction and hopefully causes change. Readers can expect to have a mental list of whom to share this book with before they're half way through it.