School Choice Weekly #37
This week, the Chicago Teachers Union approved a resolution against national Common Core  curriculum and testing mandates, soon after Oregon’s teachers union made similar moves and four months after the same from New York’s.
How helpful of them to throw their political weight against the mandates now that it’s unlikely they’ll be fully repealed in more than a few states. And of course the union’s vote is based on principle rather than the fact that new tests coming down the pike may hurt unions by bouncing low-performing teachers onto probation and revealing that public schools aren’t educating as well as many think.
It’s difficult to cut this Gordian knot because union protections for bad teachers should be repealed, but states’ new test-tied teacher evaluation systems are ham-handed, biased central planning dictates . So is Common Core. Cartels and monopolies are never a good idea, whether the particulars emanate from unions, state legislatures, or the Obama administration. So while teachers unions are almost certainly not motivated by what’s best for kids (because they’re actually about preserving jobs for their members instead), they’ve got a point.
Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Aside from snark, what may this portend? First, it makes quite clear what folks said long before Common Core passed based on the audacity of its aspirations rather than evidence of likely accomplishment: “Implementation” will grind it into nothing. Central Planning 101: It’s impossible to micro-manage so many people. In other words, bigger unions starting to take the hint from their locals indicates that, despite all the push-polling showing otherwise, most teachers are not likely to make sweeping changes to their practice just because some shiny-faced bureaucrats somewhere have a big idea. In fact, they rather resent yet another intrusion.
Second, this complicates the already-insane Common Core politics, for until now the most visible and effective Common Core opponents have been Tea Partiers, who are hardly union-friendly. So this makes the weird underground alliances among right and left against Common Core even harder for sound-bite politicians to digest. Certainly it’s not as easy as “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” adage.
But here’s another, more useful proverb: If everyone can smell it, it definitely stinks.
IN THIS ISSUE:
- FLORIDA: As school choice matures in Florida, it confronts two struggles : expansion and regulation.
- ARIZONA: While other states with highly regulated voucher programs tend to have far more demand than supply, Arizona has nearly 100 percent participation in its lightly regulated choice program .
- PENNSYLVANIA: Facing competition from online charter schools , a traditional district has stepped up its game and become a leader.
- INDIANA: Common Core opponents beat two incumbent state representatives in the state’s GOP primary , by wide margins.
- CALIFORNIA: New Common Core tests are plagued with computer problems . School leaders are relieved the tests don’t count this year.
- LOUISIANA: The Senate Education Committee has rejected a repeal of Common Core , with members complaining about a loss of stability for schools.
- FLORIDA: Gov. Rick Scott has signed weak-sauce bills to delay and reduce the impact of Common Core .
- TESTING: A testing company has filed suit against the winner of a Common Core testing contract , saying the process was unfair and represents crony capitalism.
- ACHIEVEMENT: It’s not just the poor. America’s middle-income and wealthy kids are also academically behind  their international peers.
- NAEP: On the latest results from the Nation’s Report Card, twelfth-graders still haven’t improved in more than 20 years , and achievement gaps have barely budged.
- CHARTERS: Congressional Republicans are excited about spending more federal tax dollars on charter schools, but they may be loving charters to death, say Rick Hess and Michael McShane .
- PRESCHOOL: The Obama administration is using tax dollars to pay for preschool data from an advocacy group . Preschool is the next goal for big-government pushers.
- OKLAHOMA: Computer problems again plague state tests . The glitches invalidated more than 8,000 students’ tests and got state leaders to fire their testing provider.
- ILLINOIS: Under a federal waiver of the No Child Left Behind law, Illinois has set lower academic goals for minorities  than for white kids.
- STUDENT LOANS: The higher education bubble has started to pop , says Richard Vedder.
- POETRY: Why you should forget Google and memorize poems .