The Washington, D.C. teachers’ union is asking members to approve a contract that would let some teachers earn bonuses tied to student performance and to opt out of union work rules. The voluntary program marks a “major turnaround” for the union, notes the Washington Post:
Union President George Parker said the changes are needed so that the District’s traditional public schools can compete more successfully with the public charter schools, which have lured away thousands of students.
“The landscape has changed. Our parents are voting with their feet,” Parker said. “As kids continue leaving the system, we will lose teachers. Our very survival depends on having kids in D.C. schools so we’ll have teachers to represent.”
Fifty-one charter schools are operating in the city. In five years, charter school enrollment has grown by 7,000 students, to 17,500. During the same period, enrollment in the D.C. school system has dropped by about 10,000 students, to 58,000.
Competition forces innovation. Who’d a thunk it?
Update: Cato’s Neal McCluskey says D.C. teachers who work to the contract are paid well.