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Union Lip Service For Reform

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Why Romney, Obama are education twins” suggests that teachers unions are not standing in the way of education reform, saying they “tolerate” charter schools and are more open to teacher evaluations. I have to respectfully disagree with this assessment. While the unions may be paying lip service to reforms like teacher evaluations and charter schools, their actions tell a different story.

Across the country unions are fighting against the use of strong data-driven and performance based evaluations to determine which teachers are rewarded, retained, and advanced. In Detroit they are suing the school district for considering performance over tenure when re-hiring teachers; in Pittsburgh they are fighting to have tenure, not merit, decide which teachers are laid off; and in Buffalo union resistance to a fair teacher evaluation system is putting at risk $5.6 million in funding that could help turnaround failing schools. Make no mistake, the teachers unions are still standing firmly against any valid evaluation systems that include real consequences.

I also take issue with the idea that unions “tolerate” charter schools. If this is true, then why did they sue to stop 17 charters from opening in New York City or attempt to drive out one of Maryland’s most successful charters (KIPP Ujima Village Academy) because they had longer school days than traditional public schools.

If the unions were serious about reform, they would work to create as many good schools as possible instead of picking fights over what kind of school it is; and they would put the best possible teachers in the classroom by advocating performance over time served.

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