Come for the Politics, Stay for the Pathologies

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

“Teach for America:” Does it Teach Us Something About the MEA?

Citing a story in the Detroit News, the Blogprof explains (again) why teachers unions are bad for the state, bad for education, and bad for children:

About a year ago, I wrote a post about the outrageous, shameless tactic that Detroit Public Schools teachers unions took in killing a program that brought well-educated teachers into the schools to improve student performance. It was about a program back in 2001-03 called TFA (Teach for America), where some gifted education graduates, of their own volition, volunteered to help underprivileged students in the inner city. By all account, it was a huge success and a boon to students afflicted with the DPS (and yes, it is just as bad as a viruses). Unfortunately, the irresistibly force came up against immovable object: the teachers union. From my prior post:

Why would the DPS want to get rid of these volunteers that had such a positive impact on the students, whom the DPS is chartered to provide for? 2003, the school district's union leaders felt increasingly threatened by Teach for America's talented presence in classrooms. Some leaders demanded the district rid of TFA, say sources who were on the district's school board and others who worked with the district then.

Real nice, huh? So much for "we are all about education of the children" coming from the MEA, no? Well, one year later, the Teach for America initiative is in the news again, and the teachers union is still opposing it in a district that graduates only 1 in 4 students. From The Detroit News: Union opposition to Teach for America volunteers blocks progress in Detroit:

No other big city needs great teachers more than Detroit, home to the nation's worst-performing urban schools. Yet the city's teachers union is trying to undermine efforts to bring some of the country's brightest young educators to the Motor City.

As they say read the whole thing. The MEA keeps telling us it’s all about the kids, but every time we hear from one of their spokespersons, it sounds like it’s about them.The TFA program is not the answer to public school woes, but when teachers’ unions oppose them, you’ve got to assume they will oppose anything else that threatens the status quo as well.

On a related note, from City Journal, an excellent article on why liberals and conservatives might agree on education reform: We’re All Right-wing Bastards Now. It discusses the NEA’s opposition to charter schools and vouchers, and shows how it set its sites on Washington D.C.’s tiny voucher program that parents loved, but was dutifully killed by Congress at the NEA’s behest.

Here’s what NEA president Dennis Van Roekel wrote to Democratic congressmen last March:

The National Education Association strongly opposes any extension of the District of Columbia private school voucher . . . program. We expect that Members of Congress who support public education, and whom we have supported, will stand firm against any proposal to extend the pilot program. Actions associated with these issues WILL be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 111th Congress.

Vouchers are not real education reform. . . . Opposition to vouchers is a top priority for NEA

Funny, a lot of parents in underperforming school districts think vouchers are a good start.