Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"Unions Fight To Protect the Nightmare"

One of the largest barriers to turning around the plight of modern day public education is that the teacher's unions are far more interested in protecting dues paying jobs than they are in seeking a quality education for students.

John Stossel, writing in Townhall, draws attention to the difficulty school districts have in firing bad teachers at the expense of good ones.

The unions use their clout to fight against the interests of the best teachers. Union leaders make sure the teachers who work hardest don't get raises or bonuses. Everyone with the same seniority and credentials must be paid the same. That guarantees that no teacher will take home a dime for making extra sure that students learn. Joel Klein, who as New York's schools chancellor runs the country's largest public-school system, put it this way: "We tolerate mediocrity, and people get paid the same whether they're outstanding or whether they're average or, indeed, whether they're way below average."

Klein said that out of 80,000 teachers, only two have been fired for incompetence in the past two years. That's because it takes years for a principal to fire an incompetent teacher. I can't explain the rules here, but you may be able to read a flow chart about them in my next book -- "may be" because the flow chart may be too big to fit in a book. The rules are so complex that they ought to begin: First, take a week off from running your school to study these rules. Many of the rules come from the union contract, which has 200 pages plus a mess of addenda. Even Klein, who used to practice antitrust law for the federal government, called the contract a "regulatory nightmare."

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