Teachers: A Course in Defiance

The worst conflict in the history of the nation's largest school system raced toward a showdown last week. For more than two months, New York City's board of education had talked contract terms with the teachers' union. In 70 sessions—many of them shirt-sleeved, round-the-clock meetings—the two sides worked to open the city's 860 schools this week on schedule. Then, late in the week, negotiations collapsed, and the union was left contradictorily blustering that it would strike and welcoming mediation.

"Mean & Inevitable." Of New York's 43,000 teachers, nearly half—21,000—are members of the militant United Federation of Teachers. When the un ion's...

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