Teachers Unions Prevent Education

How long will America allow teachers unions to fail its children?

Quoting Jerry Pournelle:

In Los Angeles, where the teachers unions have the most favorable contracts I know of from a large school district, the District, forced to cut back, chose to do so by laying off teachers from the 3 worst performing schools in the district.  The American Civil Liberties Union promptly went to court to upset this, saying they couldn’t solve their problems on the backs of students from schools for the poor.  In theory the lawsuit was to protect the students, although what they are being protected from isn’t clear.  Apparently they have a right to be taught by ineffective teachers?  But the ACLU and the school district reached an agreement in which the District will be able to lay off teachers using complex rules that have some concession to teacher effectiveness rather than strict seniority.  The LA teacher union, predictably, threatens court action.  Solidarity forever.  The student be damned, bad teachers have rights.  Students don’t.  Students have no right to an effective teacher: the purpose of the student is to justify the payments to their teachers, and teacher effectiveness must never be considered in school management.  So it goes.

Bill Gates has financed studies that strongly indicate that we could double the effectiveness of our school system simply by firing the worst 10% of the teachers.  Just fire them.  You needn’t replace them.  Send the students to other classes.  Yes, that would raise class sizes: but our cups overflow with evidence that class size is a far smaller influence on education success than teacher effectiveness.  That has been known since the Chapman report.  (Good luck on finding the report; I probably don’t know how to look, but I can’t.  It was done prior to 1972, and is hardly the only data, as for instance Debunking the Class Size Myth: How to Really Improve Teacher Effectiveness.  It’s easy to find more.  I bring up Chapman to indicate that we have known all this for a long time.)  The point is that almost everyone who has studied the problem understands that the first and most cost effective move we can make would be to fire bad teachers, and that we have known this for forty years, and that it is harder to fire bad teachers now than it was in the days of "Why Johnny Can’t Read".  One might suppose that children have a right to be taught effectively, but that is not the case: what they have a right to is the teacher with the most seniority without regard to that teacher’s abilities.  The entire system exists to assure bad teachers that they will always be paid.

Destroying the educational and employment prospects of huge swaths of future generations is bad enough, but that’s not all the teachers unions do: they’re also a primary cause of the pension disaster coming soon to cities and states near you.  Because making kids stupid isn’t enough; they ought to be bankrupt, too.

Posted by Anthony on reply

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