Three cheers for the HISD School Board for standing up to the unions and seeking the best for the students and families of Houston! Ericka Mellon on Chron.com describes how the HISD School Board wants to include student progress in teacher evaluations and how the union bosses are opposed to it.
So here is my reasoning regarding the disconnect between the school board and the union bosses. Where is the flaw in my logic?
What is the goal of teaching? My answer is that teachers are hired to help their students grow in knowledge and academic ability each year to the extent that the students’ ability allows. If that is the goal, then measuring progress toward that goal should be the fundamental test of teaching success or quality.
That is exactly what “value-added” evaluations are. A teacher’s students are given the same achievement test at the beginning and end of the school year. This measures academic progress through the year, not just academic levels at the end of the year.
So why would Gayle Fallon, Chuck Robinson, and Randy Weingarten, all union bosses, consider value-added evaluations a “deal breaker”? Why would they not want what is best for the kids? Because their goal is not maximizing student achievement! Their goal is maximizing union dues payments. How would “value-added” threaten their goal? Because it would weed out the bad teachers.
Good teachers don’t need the unions for job protection, so they are not “faithful” union members. They can always find a job at some school because principals need their good services. Many good teachers say that they are union members for the professional liability insurance. But they are unaware that they can get liability insurance at non-political teachers associations at less than one third the cost of TSTA membership, at aaeteachers.org or ceai.org. (I have no financial connection with either of these organizations.)
It’s the bad teachers (a minority) that desperately need the unions for job protection. Likewise, the union bosses need them. They are the loyal union members.
A clear example of the union bosses goals can be seen in the excellent movie, “Waiting for ‘Superman'”. The Washington DC school chancellor, Michelle Rhee, makes an creative contract offer to the union bosses. It would offer to double the salary of every teacher who voluntarily gives up “tenure,” the union’s job guarantee. This offer threatened the union bosses so much that they refused to let their members vote on the offer. After two years the union relented and let the members vote. The teachers voted 80% in favor of accepting the offer that the union bosses had refused to let them vote for.
In summary, the union bosses will always sacrifice the students’ education in order to protect their faithful members, bad teachers. What other motivation could explain their actions?