Articles tagged with teachers unions

The week in blogs

Pundits made a big deal about Rick Perry forgetting the name of one of the three federal departments he plans to eliminate if elected president– for the record, it was the Department of Energy — but blogger Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute is more concerned about just what the Texas governor means when he says the Department of Education would also be “gone.”

“It isn’t clear that abolishing the Department would itself end any federal education programs (since they can migrate elsewhere),” Hess wrote. “So, specifically, which programs and activities will you eliminate?”

Then – wouldn’t you know it? – it gets complicated.

Would Perry try to eliminate federal funding for special education? Hess asked. How about Pell grants or Title 1?

“Many will think there are obvious right and wrong answers to these questions,” Hess writes after posing a few other queries “But I do want to know what the GOP candidate’s bold promises really mean.”

Remember nearly 10 years ago when Connecticut went to court over No Child Left Behind, claiming it would cost millions in unfunded mandates? Well, just look at what it could cost California in required “reforms” in order to be granted an NCLB waiver by the Obama Administration, writes This Week in Education’s John Thompson, and Connecticut’s decade-old legal gambit doesn’t seem that out of line.

Lastly, we turn to two timely blogs from NSBA’s Center for Public Education.  In one Mandy Newport, a former teacher, Center intern, and graduate student at George Washington University, takes the Heritage Foundation to task for it’s ill-conceived idea that paying teachers less will result in education improvements.

Then there is Research Analyst Jim Hull’s blog on Tennessee’s new teacher evaluation system, the title of which I absolutely love:

“Using research to inform policy without understanding the research.”

Sort of like, “Vowing to eliminate the Department of Education without understanding what the Department of Education does?”

Lawrence Hardy|November 19th, 2011|Categories: Week in Blogs, Center for Public Education, Federal Programs, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Educational Research|Tags: , , , , , , , |

NSBA commends the educational contributions of “It’s Academic”

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) recently recognized the high school quiz show in Washington, “It’s Academic,”  for its educational value. Earlier this month it was announced that after hosting the quiz show for 50 years, Mac McGarry, 85, has decided to retire.

The Guinness Book of World Records has recognized “It’s Academic” as the longest-running television quiz show in the world and the winner of eight Emmy Awards. Here is the letter NSBA recently sent on the education value of “It’s Academic” and the retirement of McGarry :

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) commends Mac McGarry for challenging young minds as the host of the television quiz show “It’s Academic” for the past 50 years. Under McGarry’s insightful guidance numerous high school students have showcased their considerable scholastic skills every Saturday morning on WRC-TV in Washington, D.C.

NSBA is, and continues to be, a proud champion of “It’s Academic” because it gives students a platform to prove to their peers that being intelligent is a valuable asset. Cheered on by their parents, classmates, cheerleaders, and sometimes members of the school band, the quiz show always has remained true to its vision of asking students to meet and surpass their own educational expectations.

As the host of the nation’s longest-running television quiz show, McGarry has undoubtedly shaped the minds of countless students. As we acknowledge McGarry’s retirement this month, we also would like to congratulate Hillary Howard as she takes over as the host of “It’s Academic.”

We sincerely look forward to the future of “It’s Academic.”

With gratitude,
Anne L. Bryant
Executive Director
National School Boards Association

Alexis Rice|November 16th, 2011|Categories: Teachers, Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: , , , , , |

Americans sympathetic to school finances, teachers, PDK poll finds

The latest edition of the influential Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup opinion poll, released on August 17, found more support for public school teachers and sympathy toward schools’ financial woes.

Despite negative publicity and state initiatives limiting the power of teachers unions, the annual poll found significant support for teachers. More than 70 percent of respondents said they have “trust and confidence” in public school teachers, and 69 percent of respondents gave public school teachers in their community a letter grade of an A or B, compared to 50 percent in 1984.

Another result found that 36 percent of respondents think that lack of financial support is the biggest problem facing schools.

And most respondents felt that decisions on teacher salaries and layoffs should be based on multiple factors, including advanced degrees, experience, and administrator evaluations, while their students’ scores on standardized tests were rated as least important. Also, most respondents thought that school districts should use multiple factors when determining layoffs, rather than seniority.

Full results of the poll are available at:

Joetta Sack-Min|August 17th, 2011|Categories: Teachers, Educational Finance|Tags: , , , |

Fate of teachers’ unions might play a role in future of school boards

1298464906226271134megaphone77-mdTeachers unions must feel like the proverbial punching bag these days. Across the nation, a lot of state policymakers are attacking tenure, seniority, and collective bargaining rights —and demonizing the unions as an obstacle to school reform.

How badly the unions are under fire—and the potential consequences for local school boards—are the focus of the April ASBJ cover story.

Clearly it’s not the best of times for unions. For one, some governors are showing very little fear of the unions’ still-powerful political influence and sizable financial war chests.

No one has made that more clear than New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who once claimed his state’s school reform efforts were being held hostage by “a selfish, self-interested, greedy union that cares more about putting money in their pockets and the pockets of their members than they care about educating our most vulnerable and needy children.”


Then, of course, there’s the recent—and tumultuous—legislative fight in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker’s attempt to strip unions of collective-bargaining rights led to a walkout by Democratic lawmakers, noisy protests, and ultimately a temporary restraining order from a judge who wanted to sort out the messy legislative process that led to the law’s passage.

Naomi Dillon|March 24th, 2011|Categories: Governance, Teachers, School Climate, American School Board Journal|Tags: |

Putting school reform in context

1377-1245004138PKaRThe opinion piece in Sunday’s Washington Post by Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee and 13 other school leaders was titled “manifesto,” a word I find a little unnerving.  It suggests certain arrogance, a we-know-what-you-need-even-if-you-don’t kind of attitude. Plus, it’s inevitably colored by the work of two 19th century German theorists, who got some things right about capitalism but a lot more wrong.

So it didn’t’ strike me as a particularly stellar PR move. However, it turns out the name “manifesto,” might have been attached by some Post editors because other papers that picked up the piece called it something different. Still, judging by it’s tone, you couldn’t quite title it “All Together Now: Let’s Improve our Schools.”

No, the piece is an argument against the status quo and the power of teacher unions. And I must say I agree with much of it; personally, I believe principals should be able to hire – and fire – pretty much whomever they please, without having their hands tied with cumbersome seniority rules. What if a principal has a bias against a certain teacher and treats him unfairly? you ask. My answer: The same thing that happens in the private sector: if he’s good, he’ll go somewhere else, with a better boss.

The problem with the “manifesto” is it suggests that personnel rules are the only problem, that little else is holding students back in poor urban schools, and this is simply not the case.

Naomi Dillon|October 19th, 2010|Categories: Governance, Teachers, Student Achievement, Dropout Prevention, Policy Formation, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , , , |

Role of teachers unions shifting, as public shifts attention to education

1210-1240955295Hn8QIt looks as if the teachers unions are coming around to the realization that the education world is changing.

Or, more specifically, the political support for teacher tenure is changing—and teachers are slowly coming to terms with that.

One sign of realization is the agreement between the Baltimore city school district and its teacher union to, as the Baltimore Sun put it, “end the longtime practice of linking pay to years of employment” and to develop a new pay scale to “reward skills and effectiveness.”

The new pay system still must be ratified by the rank and file. But with the Obama administration pushing for such changes nationwide, and tenure-bashing hitting a strong chord in “Waiting for Superman,” it’s likely that teachers see the writing on the wall. They’ve got to give a little—or they’ll see lawmakers take matters into their own hands.

And that’s never good. Just ask any school administrator or school board member about legislative fiats.

Certainly other local union affiliates are worried—or, if you’re an optimist, teacher attitudes are realigning with the rest of the nation, enough that the union leadership is coming around, too.

Most recently, school districts in Pittsburgh, New Haven, Conn., and Washington, D.C. have taken steps to revamp their teacher pay plans. This summer, D.C. teachers agreed to a voluntary plan that would trade job security for big salary gains based on performance.

Naomi Dillon|October 7th, 2010|Categories: Governance, Teachers, Policy Formation, American School Board Journal|Tags: , |

NBC’s stab at public education often aimed at unions, and no one else

After what seemed like an excruciatingly long week, NBC’s much-anticipated “Education Nation” summit is over. Coupled with the release of the much-hyped “Waiting for Superman” documentary, public education—and particularly teachers–have been under intense, and sometimes unfair, scrutiny.

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Teachers unions are under the gun (particularly the American Federation of Teachers, which is smaller but represents employees in more cities than the National Education Association) and many times it seemed AFT leader Randi Weingarten was constantly engaged in a back-and-forth with D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

No doubt it is time to have a serious conversation about tenure and contracts (and the pension system). But we can’t ignore recruitment as well—even as many school districts are laying off teachers, long-term data show that many experienced teachers are getting ready to retire.

Naomi Dillon|October 4th, 2010|Categories: Governance, Teachers, Student Achievement, Policy Formation, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |
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