It’s Teacher Freedom Week
School Choice Weekly #49
It’s actually National Employee Freedom Week, which is the positive way to say a national week aimed at raising awareness that union members don’t have to be. Polls show nearly a third of union members would prefer not to be. Of course, a large number of union members are teachers, many of whom are enrolled into a union the minute they accept a government teaching job.
In Nevada alone, related efforts from the Nevada Policy Research Institute have resulted in 1,450 teachers leaving the state union, depriving it of approximately $1.1 million in dues each year. That, of course, weakens the union’s political power.
Since union policies are bad for kids because they prioritize adult comfort over efficiency and academic achievement, that’s a good thing. Unions support, among other things, paying teachers according to years on the job and credentials amassed, not instructional effectiveness. They also support other aspects of tenure that make it a costly hassle to fire a teacher and have even resulted in keeping child molesters in classrooms. As many school districts have found, even the “teacher development” that unions sponsor tends to benefit the unions more than the teachers, because it functions more as networking and message-spreading than actionable upgrades to a teacher’s craft.
If the third of union members who want out nationally managed to act on their wishes, unions would lose tens of millions of dollars every year, which those individual workers would personally gain. There’s an economic stimulus conservatives can support.
SOURCE: Wall Street Journal, Nevada Policy Research Institute
IN THIS ISSUE:
- FLORIDA: Students in the nation’s largest school choice program are mostly low-income but perform at national averages, far better than their demographic counterparts nationwide, a new evaluation finds.
- MASSACHUSETTS: A tax-credit scholarship would cut the financial link between housing markets and education, giving poor children opportunities to attend better school, just like wealthier kids.
- DEMOCRATS: Democrats largely don’t support school choice because they get more money from teachers unions than they do from their minority voters, who are most hurt by poor-quality public schools, says a Democrat. He thinks if Democrats deal with this flaw in their approach, Republicans will be relegated to a minority party for the foreseeable future. The key is convincing suburban voters, or the “haves.”
- IOWA: State officials sent letters withdrawing from national Common Core tests--but leaving their options open for rejoining the tests soon.
- LOUISIANA: Gov. Bobby Jindal cuts through the lawsuits and rhetoric to show how Common Core really is about federal curriculum control.
- ARIZONA: In a fierce re-election battle, state Superintendent John Huppenthal insists he has “never supported the Common Core standards.” The Arizona Capitol-Times quotes a ream of public statements Huppenthal made, as recently as two months ago, fiercely supporting Common Core.
- DEMOGRAPHICS: For the first time in U.S. history this fall, nonwhite students will be the majority in K–12 public schools, at 50.2 percent of the student population. Unfortunately, the United States is worse at educating Hispanic and African-American kids than their Caucasian counterparts, and the rising generation will bear perhaps the biggest debt burden in the world’s history.
- UNIONS: Read a treasure trove of internal union documents from state and national teachers unions, including budgets, political and legal strategies, and more, recently uncovered by watchdog Mike Antonucci.
- BREAKFAST: A study finds pushing kids into school breakfasts has at best no benefits for kids. Other harmful consequences include wasting taxpayer money and altering the relationship between parent and child.
- NEW YORK: The state department of education has posted a “parents’ bill of rights” about their children’s education data. It essentially summarizes existing law, which privacy advocates say doesn’t protect much.
- MINNESOTA: Minneapolis Public Schools spend $22,000 per student--twice the state average--yet half of their students drop out and less than half are at grade-level in math, reading, and science.
- MICHELLE RHEE: The leader of education lobbying group StudentsFirst will reportedly step down after disappointing fundraising, sources tell the Huffington Post.