Stop blaming teachers for America’s education problems, writes Bob Herbert in the New York Times, citing a speech by American Federation of Teachers leader Randi Weingarten.
Ms. Weingarten was raising a cry against the demonizing of teachers and the widespread, uninformed tendency to cast wholesale blame on teachers for the myriad problems with American public schools. It reminded me of the way autoworkers have been vilified and blamed by so many for the problems plaguing the Big Three automakers.
That’s a straw man, responds Eduwonk. Most people sympathize with teachers’ challenges.
. . . saying teachers are the most important within school factor in student learning, and that public policy does not respect that today, is not the same as blaming them for today’s problems.
I don’t think skilled teachers and unskilled auto workers have much in common. Auto unions pushed up costs, especially for retirees, making U.S. cars uncompetitive. In education, the problem isn’t excessive pay, it’s the fact that salaries aren’t linked to teacher effectiveness, the difficulty of their jobs or the market demand for their skills.
That may be changing. Weingarten said the AFT is willing to consider changes in tenure, teacher assignments and merit pay, Herbert pointed out.