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Remarks show reform must address teacher competency

Perhaps the reason why little progress has been seen in educational improvement in Louisiana’s elementary and secondary schools over the past couple of years is that the area of potential positive change that now must be addressed is the quality of the teachers themselves. At least that’s what one is forced to conclude when reviewing the stubbornness and stupidity of the remarks of a union leader of Louisiana teachers.

In conjunction with a meeting of the Louisiana Charter Schools Conference, Tom Tate, lobbyist for the Louisiana Association of Educators, opined “Their success is yet to be determined,” then really stepped out on the limb by adding, “By and large they have not been successful.” Teachers unions oppose charter schools because they allow for reduced union interference in delivering education, are less likely to protect low-performing or incompetent teachers, and encourage and reward greater efficiency in delivering education.

Sawing off the limb is accomplished upon referencing a Stanford University study of Louisiana charter schools that revealed charter school students, after four years and beyond, showed gains in math and reading compared to their counterparts in traditional public schools. The study also said black students who attend charter schools, as well as students classified as living in poverty, did significantly better in math and reading than did their counterparts in traditional public schools.

You would think this would be enough for an opponent to concede on the issue, but apparently not. Additionally, it must be kept in mind that schools made into charters represented the worst performers. Therefore, when comparing charter results to those of regular schools, they are two distinct populations so gains in the black sub-population of charter students are even more impressive because they likely have socioeconomic characteristics that create more roadblocks for success than the students from other public schools.

This makes a lie of the frequent teacher union excuse that there’s little teachers can do with underperforming students given what they have to work with. Statistics continue to show that charter schools simply do a better job, likely because they attract better teachers given personnel policies that aren’t afraid to award merit and discourage the slackers or incompetent – despite (or perhaps because) not many of them are unionized – and they provide a better administrative structure for the purposes of educating.

Continued obstinacy in the face of these facts proves teachers’ union would rather sacrifice quality education in favor of excising the greatest amount of resources from taxpayers for the least amount of quality work. It also lays bare that their representatives can’t think critically well about education issues. This and the fact they have opposed consistently the idea of regular subject area merit testing of teachers leads one to believe that shielding intellectually incompetent teachers from termination has become the main impact that unions have on the quality of education.


Anonymous said...

Jeff, you continue to amaze me... your lack of knowledge of educational research and your ideological stances which ignore research are almost beyond belief in someone who is a college professor. The Stanford study you reference actually cuts your branch off, kind sir. It notes that 17% of students (the study used a socio-economic 'twinning" of students from the charter schools and 'local' public schools) in charter schools around the US outperformed their "twins" in the regular public schools in terms of academic growth on standardized tests. On the other hand... 37% of public school students outperformed their twins in the charter schools. The remainder showed no statistical differences... hence the LAE rep was accurately portraying, once again, the best research on charter school performance across the nation. In point of fact, moving to charter schools gives roughly one out of six students the likelihood of increased academic performance... not very good odds for basing "reform" efforts on. Now, since you were focusing on Louisiana... I should point out that the vast majority of students were in New Orleans... and what were being compared were charter school students with RSD students. The RSD, known colloquially by New Orleanians as "the Rest of the School District, has the absolute lowest scores in the state... and these were totally reconstituted schools with totally different populations than before, so comparisons with pre-Katrina make no sense at all. These are Pastorek's schools, spending roughly 55% more per student than the rest of the states public schools... and therefore the comparisons were all on Pastorek's turf, so to speak. There have already been identified a number of statistical anomalies which researchers have found... and it is likely that these will be making their way into revisions of the study. By the way, the Louisiana data was also compounded by the fact that thousands of RSD charter school and RSD regular school scores were found to have "disappeared" when they did not support the idea that these schools were improving....

Everyone is entitled to their opinions... but please try to at least recognize the problems with allowing ideological positions to overtake the facts on the ground.

Anonymous said...

It is also so very amusing to see a college professor, who to my knowledge has no experience in a real public school classroom at the lower level, opine about the poor quality of classroom teachers.

You might want to try teaching for a day, outside of your ivory tower, Professor and perhaps get a needed dose of humility.