Democratic challenges to school reform fail to add up

We all work with people who just aren’t good at their job. Whether it’s a co-worker, your boss, a business contact or a friend, we see it every day.

Businesses, many of them anyway, take steps to make sure their employees are doing what they’re paid to do and doing it efficiently. Most people do what they’re supposed to, but not everyone.

Some industries lend themselves to quantitative data analysis: sales jobs, grocery store managers, theme park owners.

Other industries need more qualitative measures, journalism, customer services, law.

Education, lends itself to quantatative analysis pretty easily. After all, students are measured every day, why would the people who oversee them not be responsible for those measurements?

And yet, Democrats, with the help of unions, have blocked any effort to add quantitative analysis of teacher productivity.

For years, unions have rejected the idea that a teacher’s performance can be measured based on test scores. In any way (One of the popular new models, the Danielson Model, is based in part on test scores, part on pier review, and part on supervisory review)

“The tests are bad, some kids who don’t test well, the test makers aren’t in tune with what needs to be on the test. Stop attacking education you conservative douchebags” (Go watch some of these union protests and you’ll get that last one)

They’re tired arguments.

They argue that teaching is a noble profession (it is), that teachers go into it not to make money but to help kids (usually true). On the other hand, that doesn’t absolve teachers of blame when they fail to do what they get paid to do.

Failing school districts fail not just because of bad students, but because of bad teachers.

Watch the documentary “Waiting for Superman” if you don’t agree.

In it, a superintendent from a heinously underperforming school district explains he would travel to schools and his principal would point out the bad teachers.

He spoke of having notes passed from other teachers telling him to make sure he goes to a certain room to see what they called “lemon” teachers.

The meaning of “lemon” in this instance is the same as with a car.

Other teachers knew it, the principal knew it and the superintendent knew it, yet union contracts prevented this teacher from being fired.

If you worked somewhere and everyone in the office, including the boss knew that a certain person was horrible at their job, that person would be fired. Period.

I’ve signed contracts. You need cause to fire someone, but these union contracts are ironclad. That same superintendent had to re-hire a teacher he’d fired for dunking a student’s head in a soiled toilet. Why? The unions.


Education is perhaps the most important resource the government provides to its citizens. I don’t want to argue teachers get paid too much because I think education is the most crucial piece to economic stability in an area, and from a macro perspective, a country.

On the other hand, everyone should be able to agree that education is so  important that there should be no impediments to making sure the best, most qualified teachers, are in our schools.

When anything, especially a union, blocks that from happening, we have a problem.

Union mandated hearings for disciplinary actions cost New York State $100 million in teacher pay and benefits while those teachers weren’t working, awaiting a hearing.

No wonder we’re broke.

A recent article in the Washington Post attempted to show that these tests are nonsensical because a school board member, having a successful business and multiple degrees,  took one and failed it.

This is the false choice created by the left, in conjunction with the teacher’s union, to strip all accountability from the profession of education.

The article’s author attacks the test for being a failure because a successful adult couldn’t pass it. Somehow that’s the test’s fault.

I bet if you went to an accounting firm, every new hire would be able to pass the CPA exams, but only maybe half of the administrators could.

Same is true in finance with the CFA exams.

I used to know what an igneous rock was as opposed to a sedimentary rock. I don’t now, but I bet that’s on the standardized test. It should be.

Just because I don’t need to know it later in life, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be on the test. It’s in the curriculum – at least I’m assuming the test is based on where a state or community believes a student’s comprehension level should be – so it should be on the test.

Furthermore, saying the test is bad so we shouldn’t use it is like saying the president is bad (he is) so we just shouldn’t have a president.

No, fix the test.

Many states are moving away from some of the national standardized tests into more comprehensive tests. More and more school districts are using data across years to track an individual student’s progress.

A teacher can’t know if they’re helping a kid if they don’t have a baseline. That’s what these tests do. If I’m a teacher, I want to know where every kid in my class stands from Day 1.

If 25 kids just walk into my room, I may have talked to their teachers from the year before, but how much do I really know about their skill level? If I can look at their test scores from the last 4 years I can see where they’ve improved or regressed.

Otherwise, I spend half the year trying to figure it out and by the time I have a successful plan for the students, it’s May and they’re checked out.

Adding accountability to the system makes the system stronger. It’s the same with our welfare system.

Wanting to add checks and balances for teachers isn’t an attack on education, it’s an attempt to improve it.

The unions know that if the school districts have the power to fire bad teachers (most teachers aren’t bad by the way), that is fewer dollars going into union pockets.

The Washington D.C. school district wanted to give teacher’s the option of having a pay for performance system that could more than double the average teacher salary, but the unions thought it was so threatening, they wouldn’t even let the teacher’s vote on it.

This is what totalitarianism democracy looks like.

Maybe if schools were better, more people would be able to comprehend the travesty being done here by Democrats and liberals who refuse to accept the fact that accountability, especially in our schools has to be in place to ensure we get the best possible outcomes.

With so many liberal teachers, no wonder no one learns anything.

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