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  • Enabling the Opponents of Reform

    A promising performance-pay program is under attack in the Boston public school system, which is trying out some new and innovative school reforms. The plan was to allow Advanced Placement teachers to receive $100 bonuses for each student who passes an AP exam, and teachers could be rewarded up to $3,000. But the Boston Herald reports that the Boston Teachers Union is trying to put an end to the innovative plan:

    Grinchlike union bosses are blocking at least 200 of Boston’s best teachers from pocketing bonuses for their classroom heroics in a puzzling move that gets a failing grade from education experts.

    The Boston Teachers Union staunchly opposes a performance bonus plan for top teachers – launched at the John D. O’Bryant School in 2008 and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates and Exxon Mobil foundations – insisting the dough be divvied up among all of a school’s teachers, good and bad.

    The union responded this way:

    There’s no one solely responsible for the development of these students. They should all share in the money,” said Richard Stutman, head of the Boston Teachers Union.

    Stutman’s sentiments are nothing new. Teachers unions contend that even the worst among them should receive pay equal to that of the best and brightest in their field. To do otherwise would mean jeopardizing membership rolls.

    Teachers unions do little to improve teaching, or improve academic achievement overall. Yet there are those who still refuse to acknowledge the negative impact of organized labor on American education. Worse even are those who carry the banner of “education reform” while simply propping-up the failed status quo.

    This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Ford Foundation has decided to enlarge the pockets of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The WSJ writes:

    The biggest headline in education circles last week was that the Ford Foundation is making a whopping $100 million grant ‘to transform secondary education in the nation’s most disadvantaged schools.’

    Our eyes raced to see which piece of the vibrant school-reform movement Ford was going to support. Would it be America’s 4,600 charters schools, many outperforming their traditional school peers and some even closing the race gap? Maybe it would be Teach for America, busting at the seams and turning down Ivy League applicants by the hundreds. Or, who knows, maybe Ford’s really on the leading edge, and would want to support voucher programs in cities like Washington.

    Would you believe the recipients of Ford’s largesse are the teachers unions? Yup. The folks at Ford are giving new meaning to the word ‘retro’.

    University of Arkansas education researcher Jay P. Greene probably put it best:

    The Ford Foundation might as well give $100 million to the city of Las Vegas to address gambling addiction.

    The Ford Foundation could have made a real investment in the lives of the nation’s children by supporting one of the most effective education programs in the country: the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. The small $12 million program, which is currently on life-support due in large part to the slings and arrows of teachers unions, has provided more than 3,000 children the opportunity to escape the underperforming and unsafe D.C. public schools, and attend a private school of their choice. The Ford Foundation’s grant would have saved the embattled scholarship program for nearly another decade instead of propping-up unions that work tirelessly to deny a bright educational future to thousands of children in the nation’s capital and across the country. That would have spurred real reform.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to Enabling the Opponents of Reform

    1. Roger S., Ma. says:

      The contracts of teachers espousing egalitarian outcomes, especially for themselves, should be terminated or not renewed. That should by law be written into every new contract. To let such people educate our children is not only unnecessary, it is actually harmful.

      To Strutman: Personal experience informs me that from K-12 a literal one to two handful of my teachers were instrumental for inspiring my educational efforts and supporting these with excellent instruction. The rest were mediocre at best, and in any case were uninspiring. They counted for little to nothing in the outcome. Some even demotivated. Their better colleagues ended up having to undo their damage. — So much for your contention that "there’s no one solely responsible for the development of these students. They should all share in the money…” Seldom was less competent verbiage uttered!

      As to the Ford Foundation, a puzzled head shake. Who twisted their arm?

      To the Gates' (idea): Great, and it's your money now, but wouldn't it be better to use it to support conservative principles and actions? Can't you see from the negative response on the part of the Boston Teachers' Union that your present design would merely cure the symptoms? That were the Union prevented from "leveling the playing field" to suit their most uninspired and uninspiring, the results you seek would accrue almost "automatically" without further expense, and would likely continue forever? It's up to you, but I'd consider the Union's response to such a generous offer a most damning confession, as well as an irreparable insult. It would induce me to use all my means to make the Union rue the day they adopted this sort of attitude. Anyway, thanks for trying and Good Luck!

    2. Allen, Memphis says:

      Teachers Union = lease common denominator. One must love those who embrace failure so tightly.

    3. Steve Shirk Alanta, says:

      How in the name of Pete did unions organize teachers? I can understand why coal miners or even welders, and the sort of craftsman who risks life and limb would organize, but teachers have a college degree and earn their living teaching our kids. We should pay them what they are worth, just like every other job that is non-union or management. To pay every teacher the same makes it an absolute certainty that the teachers will be mediocre for the most part. The occasional teacher will be great no matter what they make, but people are people, and their behavior is fairly predictable. If you pay everyone the same, not too many are incentivized to excel….duh

      This may be how we have arrived at a ruling party of democrats and union bosses. All hail to SEIU!!!! NOT

    4. R.N. Butler Cape Cod says:

      Could the email addresses of these unrepentant dogooders be supplied so those of us who are tired of our children be not only politicized, but grossly under educated, voice our displeasure.

    5. Bobbie Jay says:

      Wow, this is deeply disappointing! Great and horrendous surprise! WOW! Ford? Who's strength and endurance I've admired during this governmental make-crisis? Whom I believed to be honest, dignified, with good judgment, who've misled me to believe they are of sound and reasonable, common American minded? Pulling the wool over the eyes is not something of comfort. WOW! FORD, HUH? Investing in the enemy of education! WOW! I just can't believe it! Ford was once greatly trusted. Please don't do this Ford!

    6. Jeanne Stotler, wood says:

      Edgucation does need to be reformed, first we need to TEACH AMERICAN HISTORY, maybe go back to when I went to school, we had an academic program for those of us who were going to college, a program for those who were going into office work, taught shorthand and typing, then a program for those who most likely would be in the service or general work force, later a tech program was instituted. Children are not made with a cookie cutter and all have different goals and different abilities, schools should e able to handle them. I know they don't and unfortunatly there are some educators who KEEP students from their aims. I know this as it happened to two of my grandson's, both very smart but one is persuing a career at making video games and animatation, the other is into video another way, both quit in SR. YR and aced their GED's and doing well in college.

    7. Tim Az says:

      For you teachers who complain that you don't get paid enough. The opportunities are out there all you have to do is throw your union under the bus so you can keep your hard earned dues and recieve your hard earned bonuses. Or is that boot on your throat more than comfortable.

    8. cadli lv. says:

      In my last comment on another subject I wrote that Ford Foundation had donated 500ml to teachers union. It was not 500ml. it was 500th.Any way, that money will help the Teacher,s unions to advance their agenda.

    9. Peter- Minnesota says:

      How typical of unions, wanting the lazy & nonproductive majority to make the same as the ambitious and productive minority. For the most part unions have outlived their usefullness and have started doing more harm than good by basing pay on position & tenure rather than on contribution and effectiveness.

    10. Jerry from Chicago says:

      I can tell you from experience that the medical insurance plans of school districts are very rich. In Illinois, each school district has a number of different pay scales, one higher than the other, one for those with only a Batchelor's degree, one for those with a Master's, another for those with a Master's and additional hours of instruction, and yet another for those with a PhD. Each of those pay scales provide for an automatic pay increase annually. And at every teacher contract renewal, each of the steps of each of those pay scales goes up 3%, 4%, 5%, and sometimes more.

      The standard teacher contract in IL calls for teachers to work 180 days per year. After working in a given district for 5 years, they attain tenure and can't be fired except for gross misconduct.

      After working for 30 years and attaining the age of at least 55, teachers are eligible for a full pension — that being 75% of the the average of their three highest years of earnings. Up until a year or so ago, teachers and administrators who announced their intent three years prior to retirement would be given pay raises of from 15% to 20% of their annual salary to sweeten those pension benefits. The best part of all this was that the local school boards who approved these big pay raises didn't have to come up with the money – the IL State Teachers Retirement System (the tax payers of IL)has to pay out these hugh pension benefits. Currently, this pension fund is 50% underfunded because IL has not been meeting its pension fund obligations. One of the last, and possibly the only responsible things our former Governor Blagojevich did, before being impeached and removed from office, was to limit such end of career pay raises to 6%.

      Most teachers know how good they have it and don't complain. What is truly disgusting is listening to the Teacher's Union whine and complain about how they are underpaid.

      The problem with unions is that they don't police their own ranks. They insist that the worst and laziest of their members make as much money and receive the same benefits as the best and most productive member.

    11. Al, The Villages, Fl says:

      How far the union has gone from the original concept of the union to fight for the working man. It no longer is relavent to the working man, except to take his money. On the contrary, the union bosses are a business onto itself, fighting for more power at the expense of the company and the workers who will lose their job as a result of the union demands.

    12. Ross writes from Bra says:

      The teacher union's creed: "those that can't do, teach." When one works on an assembly line, the union can hide his incompetents. That's one issue. But teaching our children, America's future? Now that's all together another issue!

      I don't understand why government employees need a union under any condition (The same goes for college tenure!). Because of teachers unions, the government school/education system is a fiscal diaster, a major scandal, and an unconscionable crime against the American people!

      Hurray for Bill Gates and Exxon/Mobile Foundation for setting up such a program. "Hold to your guns" against the Teachers Union. Continue to reward the best teachers for their dedication to excellence in education.

      Ford, shame on you! Unions got you in the finacial trouble your in now. Why give teacher unions anything, they deserve nothing but contempt.

    13. Peter Cannon, Farmin says:

      Do not confuse the Ford Foundation with Ford Motor Company. The Ford family created the Ford Foundation and it has taken a liberal turn after its board of directors was flooded with liberals. It is no wonder the foundation supports socialist practices now.

      On the other hand, the Ford Motor Company still believes in free markets and competition and succeeds because of it.

    14. Bobbie Jay says:

      Thank you for pointing that out. I guess when I see "Ford" I think of the "Motor." Are they entirely separated or can the "foundation's" corrupted investments of working against honest education, infiltrate?

      Rewarding the undeserving and their corruption. I don't think I can look at the name the same way.

    15. loves Dogs says:

      UNTIL YOU GET RID OF UNIONS THERE IS NO FREEDOM TO DO WHAT IS GOOD IN THIS COUNTRY. People are so stupid to believe business etc. have gone away because these company's chose to take their goods else where for cheaper labor. Well, folks, wake up and smell the roses….they left because the UNIONs destroyed what once was good. They are the middle man and if you have to pay someone like this then you are S.O.O.L.. Teachers, wake up—-you have the best job out there…..you are off on holidays and summers etc. unless you live somewhere that parents want a free babysitter twelve months out of the year but if you get rid of the unions and just figure out how to speak up and do you job right —this is what will happen….. Teacher use to teach because they loved the profession. Now, it 's about how much can they earn and how many days a year off can they get…… Then the unions controll you baby.

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