Public Schools: The Use and Misuse of Power

For the third time since the start of the school year on Sept. 9, most of New York City's public schools were shut down—in large measure owing to the actions of one man. At the urging of its belligerent president, Albert Shanker, the United Federation of Teachers again walked out on strike; more than 50,000 teachers abruptly abandoned their classrooms in the latest battle over the city's ill-planned efforts at school decentralization.

Before the week ended, everyone was shouting angrily at everyone else. Those teachers who crossed the picket lines in an effort...