How can we know when the tide of respectable opinion has decisively turned against the teachers’ unions? When a panel that includes Father Hesburgh, Birch Bayh. Bill Bradley, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Roger Wilkins goes medieval on them, saying their resistance to reforms designed to hold schools accountable has hurt “disadvantaged students” and led to “calcified systems in which talented people are deterred from applying or staying as teachers …”
The report charges:
The unions have battled against the principle that schools and education agencies should be held accountable for the academic progress of their students. They have sought to water down the standards adopted by states to reflect what students should know and be able to do. They have attacked assessments designed to measure the progress of schools, seeking to localize decisions about test content so that the performance of students in one school or community cannot be compared with others. They have resisted innovative ways-such as growth models-to assess student performance.
The unions’ defense of the status quo has harmed the neediest students, the report concludes.
Over the last decade, the national leaders of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have made their unions implacable foes of laws and policies designed to improve public education for disadvantaged children.
. . . The bottom line is that the NEA would permit different standards for different children, a system that was prevalent during the days of racial segregation in schools.
. . . Despite their insistence on educational inputs as the key to educational success, the unions repeatedly seek to block one of the most important of these inputs, equitable distribution of highly qualified teachers to high need schools.
The status quo is OK for middle-class students with supportive parents. For left-behind students, it’s very grim.