The recent decision by the Chicago Teachers Union to go on strike over evaluation standards has quickly transmogrified and revamped the education debate surrounding national politics in the last several years. A recent Christian Science Monitor article got right to the heart of the matter: any sense of accountability will be fought with a vengeance by greedy union leaders dead set on propping up an industry that is already welcomed by unprecedented benefits through annual pay raises and tenure that is unheard of in the private sector.
The CSM editorial board states, “Among other things, the striking teachers oppose plans to hold them accountable for what their students learn in the classroom. Given that the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s education reform strategy is teacher evaluation, the strike marks a major pushback against a national movement.”
As other states around the country have proved, teachers unions want no part of holding their members accountable, and they have been successful in pushing back against federal grants that promote performance-based compensation plans. The country at large saw the debacle in Madison, Wisconsin over public sector employee unions and their lavish pension plans that they went to great lengths to selfishly protect at the expense of taxpayers and students.
These past developments are indicative of the rampant, systematic attempts by union leaders and public school officials to ensure that no sense of accountability can ever touch their pocketbooks, tenured jobs, and career perks that result from joining a public sector employee union, particularly a teachers union.
In addition to burdening local and state budgets, union efforts to push back against stronger evaluation standards and performance-based pay are having a negative effect in the classroom as well. The CSM editorial board opines, “When a quarter of public school students still fail to graduate from high school – and those who do graduate have low skills in writing or math – parents, taxpayers, and employers insist on measurable standards for teachers.”
Scores from the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment showed that the future of global economic competitiveness in the United States is at risk unless education policy is reformed, school choice is expanded, and teachers unions are held accountable.
The scores show “15-year-old students in the U.S. performing about average in reading and science, and below average in math. Out of 34 countries, the U.S. ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math.” Countries scoring ahead of the United States include Canada, South Korea, Finland and Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai in China.
This should be alarming to parents, taxpayers, and anyone with a stake in the future of American competitiveness in the global economy. Education does not need more “investment,” it needs a radical transformation that is student and parent focused.
Rather than states and politicians continuously caving to union demands, America needs more Scott Walkers and Mitch Daniels when it comes to education policy. Our children deserve better, parents have a right to more choice, and taxpayers should be entitled to accountability from unions run amok throughout the country with no regard for the misguided, selfish, and downright greedy policies that they propagate.