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In the Crib
Teachers’ Union Attempts to Strangle Charters
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  • Ann in L.A.

    The problem with teacher-owned and teacher-managed educational ventures is that teachers are only as good as the ed schools they come from, and there are serious concerns over those schools’ dogmatic uniformity in pushing constructivist-based instruction and treating explicit instruction as a horribly, damaging method–even in the face of mountains of evidence from around the world that teacher-led instruction beats student-led inquiry, especially in the early grades.

    • Tom

      Why would anyone push student-led inquiry as the main mode of instruction at any point before high school?

      • Jim__L


        • Andrew Allison

          There’s an alternative explanation, namely irresponsibility — the teaching of which appears to have achieved high priority in public education. Why would parents “educated” to think that participation is all that’s required to get through school attempt to get a real education for their kids?

          • FriendlyGoat

            Perhaps we can agree that a lot of “participation” stuff sucks. I don’t like committees or group task forces among adults. Ditto in-person “discussion groups”. Ditto group presentations. Ditto group projects.
            It’s too often just stupid. So why tell kids to do anything like that?

          • M Snow

            A lot sucks, but not all. Teaching the little dears to cooperate once in awhile can be useful.

    • vepxistqaosani

      In fairness, the only way to learn mathematics is, at root, constructivist. One has to be able to create one’s own proofs in order to be sure one understands.

      On the other hand, constructivism may be the worst possible way to teach mathematics. Especially if, as is nearly always the case in the US, the teacher doesn’t really understand the mathematics she’s teaching in the first place.

  • ronetc

    I did not think the sainted WRM had much truck with people out on impossible unicorn hunts. But if he expects change from the teacher union led educational establishment in “spend[ing] less money on administration and centralized bureaucracies while putting more resources in the hands of teachers—teachers who are closely watched by parents and accountable to them . . . ,” then the unicorn has a big head start. And if it is a contest between administration and bureaucracy and what is “good for kids,” the unicorn will turn and gore the unwary hunter. No change is going to happen from within. It’s going to have to be blown up and started all over again.

    • johngbarker

      ” No change is going to happen from within. It’s going to have to be blown up and started all over again” This is so true; this slightest changes always affect some interest group who will find a way of blowing innovation to pieces.

  • FriendlyGoat

    There is no such thing as being “closely watched by and accountable to (all) parents (at once)” and also “independent professionals whose achievements bring them status, security and respect”. Aside from salaries and benefits, this conflict of ideas is an important secondary reason why teachers have unions in the first place—-to erect sensible barriers as protection FROM some parents.

    The body of parents taken as a whole in any public school contains some people who are loony-tunes on any of a whole spectrum of issues. Some think teachers are too hard. Some think they are too easy. Some want old-school discipline. Some don’t. Some favor social promotion. Some don’t. Some always want open pathways to a Biblical view of everything. Some don’t. Some are tolerant of Common Core and standardized testing. Some aren’t. Some are willing to drive teachers crazy on the little things. Maybe most aren’t but you can always be sure that those parents demanding the most “accountability” have some kind of ax to grind.

    Meanwhile, as long as everyone understands that a common “management” model for charters is to over-pay the administrators and under-pay the teachers, then everyone can proceed cautiously case by case. As for “status, security and respect” for the teachers, well, you can expect charters to probably diminish all of those. The unionized teachers are not naive about this stuff. Why would be expect them to be?

    • Jim__L

      A local school board that has the latitude to make its own decisions in response to local PTAs is pretty much what people have in mind here, I think.

      Once authority is ceded to the Federal level it becomes completely unaccountable to locals. “But, but, but, making decisions between so many different points of view is haaaaaaard” is NOT a reason to abdicate local decision-making.

      Do you even believe that freedom is a good thing?

      • FriendlyGoat

        I believe in the freedom of parent groups to operate and pay for private schools as they wish. I already told you that I had a son in conservative Christian schools K-12, not funded with public money and only lightly encumbered with governmental strings as a result. One of them even had me on their board for 4 years until we moved out of that town.
        I’m not unfamiliar with these things—-even though it’s all 20+ years in the rear view mirror now.

    • Andrew Allison

      As has been elucidated on this blog many times, public employee unions care only about protecting their incompetent members and extorting ever-more undeserved gains from the taxpayer. Furthermore, one of the major reasons for the alarming decline in education standards is the abdication of responsibility by all-to-many parents. You, having chosen to have your son educated outside the public system, clearly understand this.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Actually, we did Christian school because my wife was most comfortable with it, starting with the pre-school run by a local church (it was the only one in town). When kindergarten time arrived, we stuck with them and that ball just rolled for the rest of the years.

        One good result was that our only son was not “lost” to drugs, gangs, sex, alcohol or any other hazards. He is over 40 now and happily married to a woman who was also the product of Christian schools. They are also more “conservative” than we are, a result of indoctrination that I’m not too crazy about (but understand how occurred.)

        As for what is elucidated on this blog, it ain’t all true, you know. We read it, but we have to also retain our common sense. The idea that the large share of unionized teachers are incompetent is not a reasonable contention.

        As for asleep-at-the-wheel parents, the teachers all know it. But they also know THEY are the scapegoats on whom the wrath is most conveniently unloaded. You cannot make Mommy and Daddy stop drinking (or whatever other problems at home) by attacking collective bargaining at school.

        • Andrew Allison

          Yes indeed, mothers do tend to care more about their children than about ideology. It’s a pity that you impute your indoctrination onto son and daughter-in-law.
          Given that incompetent public school teachers can’t be fired, the idea that large numbers of unionized teachers are more incompetent than non-unionized teachers is not merely reasonable, but self-evident.
          Your last paragraph is nonsensical.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Careful with that first and second sentence, Andrew. Let’s just say you’re igniting real anger with your flippant commentary to me. More than you think. More than belongs here. Back off the personal!

          • Anthony

            FG, not the Blue Model but historic aberration perhaps (something different but related). You’ll find this of interest:

          • FriendlyGoat

            Thanks. I have not read Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the 21st Century”, but it was my understanding he too made the case for the mid-20th century being an aberration.

          • Anthony

            He intimated as much. And you’re welcome.

  • Jim__L

    Fund them through vouchers, where the value of the voucher is marginally lower than the per-student cost of a regular public school. When a student leaves the public school system, reduce the funding level of that school only by the amount of the voucher. This will have the effect of increasing the per-student spending at the public school.

    Structuring incentives properly is a good thing. =)

    • Andrew Allison

      You’re right, of course, but the only incentive for a bureaucracy (any bureaucracy) to reform is the treat of elimination.

  • lukelea

    Why not let the state serve hard to serve students?

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