A Reversal of Roles

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Teachers' unions are used to standing up to administrators, politicians, annoying watchdog groups, even dissenting teachers but generally they shy away from taking on students. Well, that is unless they mess with cigarette breaks. According to a report in the Des Moines Register, a group of students who have supported a proposal to ban smoking is about to meet a lesson in contract negotiations. "We don't want them, in essence, violating what we have a right to do," coughed Phil Fitzgerald, chief negotiator for the union.

While Mr. Fitzgerald declined to comment officially on whether the union intended to block the proposal, comments from Superintendent Tom Williams left little doubt that behind the scenes, the union message has gotten through: "We've been advised by our attorney that we should bargain this item." There's always the school bathrooms if the students decide to hang tough.