Tuesday, March 1, 2011


 Given all the talk of late of unions and the states are trying to hurt teachers rhetoric, today is a good day to discuss the last hired first fired play that most schools are forced to live by when spending cuts must be made.

 The union’s job is to protect their members. But what happens when their members are no longer performing up to par? Nothing. Actually, they dig their heals in to protect.

I was on a school board a few years back and the conversation came up to link the teachers pay with their student’s performance. You would have thought a proposal was made for the teachers to give up their first born. It was quite amazing. In the end the proposal went nowhere – the unions won.

I am on record understanding the plight faced by teachers. Indeed it’s a new world - one in which parents claim the teachers are too hard on their children, where a parent or student  charges discrimination, sues the school district and wins, where in most cases the teachers hands are tied when it comes to talking, teaching, grading and reprimanding their students. They have children with ADD, Dyslexia, a full spectrum of Special Education Needs, Kids on Ritalin and God knows what else.

Some teachers have just given up – they could care less if their students learn. They get a paycheck and pension so who cares. We’ve all heard it these past few weeks – they’ll start worrying about the children when the children are paying dues. But the truth is the government has gotten in the way with their ridiculous regulations and the unions pushed instead of pulled.

No longer using a red pen (ooh no it hurts the children), give a D to a kid that just shows up b/c they’re not allowed to ‘fail’ anyone (in reality everyone has failed the student b/c they’ve taught him/her nothing) and poof accountability is nowhere.

Students aside, how can we be expected to take the unions seriously when they protect the bad and good teachers equally? Bad teachers are hiding behind the union label and in turn our kids are suffering for it. The unions seem to be of the mentality that it matters not if whom they protect is worthy of being protected. If the unions want to stay in place, if they want their collective bargaining rights maintained, then they should concede to a)allow districts to fire the tenured bad teachers w/out repercussion (providing full documentation is available) and b)allow pay raises to be linked to student achievement. If teachers have to teach to get a pay raise you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be teaching!
I call this the put your money where your mouth is plan.

In turn the government needs to get out of the education business, bring back red pens, and allow teachers and administrators alike to teach and reprimand without fear of parental retaliation. This means that the courts need to wake up to the fact that teachers are in place to teach not be a friend and sometimes when a kid or parent is offended it’s actually A Okay!
And above all else, districts should support teachers that want to fail a kid who isn’t giving their academic career serious attention without fear of losing federal funds.

 Combine all these things together and we have accountability. Accountability from the teachers, the administration, the unions, the government and BINGO the parents and students. It's high time we got our heads on straight and stopped all the nonsense. Accountability across the board is the answer to what ails us.