Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Unions Attack Vouchers and Charter Schools

1. Since when does Washington, D.C. pass up $18 million in federal money? When the teachers' unions demand it. Link.
(Via Club for Growth)

2. Since when does a state come up with a novel way to kill off its innovative and successful charter schools? When the labor unions demand it. Link.

15 Comments:

At 6/18/2008 10:43 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

1) Where’s any reference or linkage in this article to a teacher’s union that justifies the title of your post. I see two main points/conclusions: 1) Dangerous schools, and 2) Low performing students. With scant evidence for the former and none for the latter. Is there a tacit assumption to make the link from teachers’ unions to either conclusion?

2) Teachers’ unions do not bargain prevailing wages for the construction industry. And, the opinion writers, take a look at their credentials, cannot realistically be expected to be unbiased. I would not accept the opposite viewpoint from a union leader, either. The truth probably lies somewhere in between the two.

 
At 6/18/2008 11:17 AM, Anonymous bob wright said...

Walt:

Check out the following from the Dec 15, 2005 Bay Mills News:

http://www.baymills.org/newspaper/
2005/12-15/121505-news-lawsuit.shtml

The first paragraph of the article:

A Michigan Education Association lawsuit filed in February against the state of Michigan, which claimed the state violated its constitution by financing charter schools sponsored by Bay Mills Community College, was dismissed on Wednesday, Dec. 7, by Ingham County Circuit Judge Joyce Draganchuk.

What else can one conclude other than the MEA wants to shut down charter schools?

 
At 6/18/2008 12:02 PM, Blogger Webutante said...

Well the labor unions have virtually killed the auto industry here and are the reason Ford has located its new plant in Mexico. So it stands to reason that their demands with charter schools will get more and more over-bearing. But in the end, they're the big losers and most of the time outlived their usefulness.

 
At 6/18/2008 1:35 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Thanks bob wright,

The link did not work, but I don't dispute teachers' unions might stifle charter schools. I know for a fact they are slow to change and protect their membership first. This is often detrimental to those who get in their way--both internally and externally.

I just don’t see the evidence that links the articles to teachers’ unions unless one has a preconceived notion in his or head to begin with. Starting out with that notion eliminates alternative solutions to the problem other than the bad “boogieman” union is the problem. Looking for scapegoats and vilifying those who will probably figure into the eventual solutions is not helpful to create positive outcomes.

The problems in education are so huge they will need everyone on board to solve them. Yes, like it or not, that includes the teachers in unions, or teachers that used to be in unions, too.

 
At 6/18/2008 3:16 PM, Anonymous bob wright said...

walt.

When you copy the second line of the link to the first line of the link it works [no spaces between the last forward slash of the first line and the "2" in the second line].

The book "Results Now: How We Can Achieve Unprecedented Improvements in Teaching and Learning" by Michael J. Schmoker (available on Amazon) gives numerous examples of vastly improved education outcomes in all kinds of public schools - urban and rural.

The solutions really aren't all that complicated.

Children from every socio-economic background can learn. Literacy in the Boston slums in the 1800's was near 90%.

We don't need to spend $13,000 per year to teach kids how to read.

 
At 6/18/2008 3:22 PM, Anonymous bob wright said...

Kids can learn from union teachers and non-union teachers.

The point is to give parents the freedom of choice as to where their kids are educated rather than forcing them into a one-size-fits-all solution; the mentality that no one can leave the plantation.

If one is truly for choice, then give K-12 parents this choice.

Choice works in higher education - it will work in K-12 also.

 
At 6/18/2008 6:41 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey walt g, how goes it amigo?

Actually your call is a good one regarding the two linked articles in this posting...

None the less E. Holmes Norton does have a reason to be grateful to the American Federation of Teachers and their $10 k contribution in 2006...

Note the following sentence from the last paragraph in this WaPo article dated Thursday, June 12, 2008: Much, though certainly not all, of the opposition to vouchers is rooted in Democratic interest-group politics and the traditional resistance of teachers unions to change

 
At 6/19/2008 6:30 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

juandos,

Yes, that's a great opinion article. Opinions are not in short supply on this subject, but I consider this blog more academic and research oriented than that. We a self-selected set of posters who attempt to qualify our conclusions with supporting evidence.

What I'm looking for is a study where teachers’ unions are the dependent variable and all the other factors such as class size, student selection, teacher selection, parents' educational attainment level, parental involvement (single parent and unstable families), parental income, building facilities, supplies such as computers and text books, and the like are held constant.

If you critically read the postings in this thread, you will quickly notice this is a union and non-union discussion disguised as an education discussion. I think if you ask most educators, if they could be granted only one wish to improve education, or even the famous "three wishes," class size and/or solving societal issues would win out over eliminating unions.

If quality children’s education really was the main point of our discussion, the focus would be productively spent on finding solutions to the main factors that influence that objective. I don’t believe the main factor is unions. I could be proven wrong; however, nothing I have seen here convinces me that if teachers who belong to unions were given the same resources as those of private schools, they would not be capable of attaining the same results.

 
At 6/19/2008 11:03 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> 1) Where’s any reference or linkage in this article to a teacher’s union that justifies the title of your post.

I have to concur with Walt on this one, Mark. The post's title may be accurate, but the articles themselves are utterly inadequate to justify it.

You need another source of info showing how the NEA or other TU is behind the two moves. I strongly suspect that would turn out to be the case, and you may well know for a fact already that they are -- but the content of the articles themselves does not point to Teachers' Unions.

 
At 6/19/2008 10:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Teachers Unions every where and always oppose charter schools by any means they can muster. To have to establish exact citations of specific local teacher union activities in each given case is like having to reprove Einstein's relativity theory every night before looking at the heavens.

 
At 6/19/2008 11:09 PM, Blogger juandos said...

walt g says: "What I'm looking for is a study where teachers’ unions are the dependent variable and all the other factors such as class size, student selection, teacher selection, parents' educational attainment level, parental involvement (single parent and unstable families), parental income, building facilities, supplies such as computers and text books, and the like are held constant"...

Well now walt g, that's a pretty tall order...

How many school districts would one have to go through and thoroughly dissect to get an adequate sampling to make a call?

11 years ago Sol Stern over at City Journal penned the following: How Teachers’ Unions Handcuff Schools

Stern posted these numbers in his piece: "The rise in the sixties and seventies of powerful teachers' unions with exclusive bargaining rights did lead to a huge jump in public school funding: between 1965 and 1990, average spending per pupil nationwide increased from $2,402 to $5,582 in inflation-adjusted dollars. The average pupil-teacher ratio dropped from 24.1 to 17.3. The percentage of teachers with master's degrees increased from 23.2 to 52.6. The median years of experience for teachers went from 8 to 15. Between 1979 and 1989 average teacher salaries rose 20 percent in real dollars. Salaries for new public school teachers during that period rose 13 percent, compared to a mere 3.5 percent increase for all other college graduates taking entry-level positions"...

In the, 'for what its worth' category we have the following: The United States ranked No. 18 out of 24 for educational system effectiveness, according to a 2003 UNICEF study...

Its not hard to draw the conclusion (correct conclusion?) that the advent of teachers' unions and failing schools (assuming UNICEF knows what its talking about) seem to go hand in hand...

 
At 6/20/2008 6:56 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

juandos,

Thanks. It is always good to hear from you; you keep me on my toes. Here’s what I respectfully think about your post:

Stern’s conclusion is in the first sentence i.e., teachers' unions increased teacher pay. Are we supposed to take a leap in logic and assume that increased teacher pay causes failing schools?

Further dissecting Stern’s argument, Stern states that teacher-pupil ratio precipitously dropped. It would be against all studies to assume that would cause failing schools. Everything points the opposite way.

Teachers’ education and experience almost doubled, yet their pay only increased 20%.

And, the last sentence of Stern’s report, you can’t compare entry level wages of an occupation that has historically been underpaid to other occupations that have not. It could easily be argued that the discrepancy was just an equalizing force to pay professionals for their education and responsibility. Few good qualified people of my age group, 52, wanted to be teachers when I graduated high school—mainly because of the pay. How can we get the smartest students to enter the teaching field without paying them well? We do need the smartest and brightest to be teachers: Don’t we?

As for the UNICEF article, no mention of teachers’ unions was made anywhere. In fact, here’s what it said about U.S. schools, “Although studies have attempted to illuminate the reasons for this downward slide, no conclusive explanations have been drawn.” Only someone inherently biased against unions could make a link between poor performing schools and unions from that—there’s just nothing there to logically make that connection.

I realize that the study that would convince me probably does not exist. However, I am not ready to vilify teachers or their unions until they are given the resources that they need to educate students for a 21st century labor market. That is not happening now. We should be removing the brain tumor instead of worrying about the headache.

 
At 6/20/2008 3:34 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey walt g, I figured you would jump on that first sentence: "Stern’s conclusion is in the first sentence i.e., teachers' unions increased teacher pay. Are we supposed to take a leap in logic and assume that increased teacher pay causes failing schools?"...

Well there could be a rationale offered up for how increased teach pay diminishes what's left in the pot for other educational expenses...

Don't look to me to make that argument though because I'm not quite sure I could make a logical argument about that point...

I'm not sure what to make of this statement since I might be misinterpreting it: "Further dissecting Stern’s argument, Stern states that teacher-pupil ratio precipitously dropped. It would be against all studies to assume that would cause failing schools. Everything points the opposite way"...

Yet the fact is still painfully obvious that even with smaller classes and better paid teachers American children appear to be doing poorly when compared to many of the other industrialized nations...

The point of the UNICEF link was just another one of those, "American kids do badly in school" type of statement...

Look walt g, between you and me I don't think it matters if the teachers are paid triple what they are making today and the student to teacher ratio is one to one if the parents don't instill discipline and respect in their children the performance markers will still turn out bad...

 
At 6/20/2008 5:28 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

juandos,

I agree with your last paragraph. Back in 1964, in my fourth grade class, we only had one kid in the class whose parents split up (that we knew about). He was also the only kid who failed that year. Maybe some things have changed, the percentage of parents splitting up or absent, and some things have stayed the same, children failing in school because of it.

Maybe teacher pay should be cut in half, but I don't see the best students entering the profession if that happens.

I agree with the concept of merit pay if is actually judged on merit and not favoritism or brown nosing. I’ve sat on apprentice evaluation committees, and true evaluations of merit are very difficult and almost impossible to do fairly and accurately. There are just too many variables that come into play, and exceptions always have to be made for unique situations.

It’s a thankless and dirty job to fire someone and deprive them of their livelihood. If too many people need to be fired, something is wrong with the organization. Poor workers are not born; they are created. Properly run organizations attract talent and keep the good people. Bad organizations do not; the good ones leave. Unions would not have to protect “bad” teachers if schools did not make them that way.

The answer to the problem is giving the teachers the tools to do their job. Eliminating unions will not accomplish that, but working with them instead of against them will.

I think I have kind of beaten this topic into the ground. Just like the abortion topic, we will probably need to respectfully agree to disagree on this one, too.

 
At 6/20/2008 6:53 PM, Blogger juandos said...

walt g says: "The answer to the problem is giving the teachers the tools to do their job. Eliminating unions will not accomplish that, but working with them instead of against them will."...

Don't teachers (obviously not all of them) already have the tools? Honestly, I don't know...

BTW I'm not one for eliminating teachers' unions, never said it, didn't mean to imply it...

You offered up the very reason I think teachers' unions should still be around: "I agree with the concept of merit pay if is actually judged on merit and not favoritism or brown nosing"...

You are talking to a 33 year union man you know...

 

Post a Comment

<< Home