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Union drivel continues opposing successful policy

It’s almost unfair, you might think, at the number of times he leaves himself defenseless, and just how many reminders does he need to give us why public elementary and secondary education is so poor in Louisiana? Yet, he’s done it again.

The walking gaffe machine known as Steve Monaghan, the president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, opened wide and stuck his foot in his mouth yet again. It came in response to recommendations made by a staff member of the National Governors’ Association who has expertise in the area of education policy, both from the practitioner and research side. The NGA, one might think, would have a pretty good handle on various policy initiatives in the states in regards to education, and what seems to work.

Her mistake was to have the temerity to suggest that teachers who perform better actually get paid more than those who don’t, which runs contrary to Louisiana’s system, heavily backed by unions, of paying more for having credentials and longevity than by any demonstration of merit. This got Monaghan’s attention, which leads one to wonder whether he understands how ridiculous he appears to anyone who understands the real world and/or who studies the data.

To the suggestion that the top half of the state’s teachers could earn bonuses of $3,000 to $6,000 through a 10 percent cut in the money that now goes to their colleagues for longevity in the classroom, Monaghan stated, “Those mistakes have already been made elsewhere. We strongly oppose any plan that would reduce the pay earned by any teacher. Anyone who believes we can improve compensation or education without the investment of additional revenues is sadly mistaken.”

Then how is it that there are a number of states where teacher pay, adjusted for cost of living (and even some not), is lower than the average in Louisiana yet their students do far better in achievement? That studies show teacher pay plans along the suggested lines do work, and that increasing teacher pay in general pales in consideration to other factors in the improvement of student achievement. Or that an enormous sum of money continues to be pumped into education in the state yet test scores remain well below the nation’s average? Further, the argument is not to reduce “pay earned by any teacher,” but to stop giving out future increases just because a teacher manages not to get fired year after year.

In this written statement concerning the consultant’s recommendations, Monaghan also said, “We will never tell teachers who have invested time, money and effort in earning advanced degrees that they labored in vain,” to the idea that pay should be linked to performance, not credentialing. To argue the recommendation entails this creates a straw man: the entire idea behind getting additional credentials is that they will make the person a better teacher, which then should translate into better performance that would garner extra compensation, according to the recommendation. The change merely would not grant automatic hikes for credentials only lacking any proof that they have improved performance, as is the current system.

Again, such resistance to changing the established order, where Louisiana schools continue to underperform relative to their peers, and such a fixation on transfer of taxpayer dollars to teachers without any evidence that they do what is intended reaffirms that unions care nothing about the taxpayer, the schools, or the students. Attitudes like these, filtered down to many teachers (although others resist that mentality and are doing their best to overcome this cancer to education), along with the incumbent inability to critically think as shown, explain why so much educational underachievement happens in Louisiana public schools.

The consultant appeared in front of a panel that is to recommend policy measures for education. Hopefully, the commission will reject the thinking of self-interested organizations that are dinosaurs and propose measures such as this that will move the present public education system more towards educating students and away from enriching special interests.

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