Thursday, February 23, 2006

Someone you should know about.

I am not sure how many people know who Joel Klein is. I didn't. That is until I moved to NYC and got involved in education. While Joel is certainly a Democrat (served in the Clinton White House and at DOJ) he is doing (or should I say trying?) some revolutionary things in our nation's largest public school system (merit-pay, higher accountability, less red tape, longer hours, etc). Known primarily for his prosecution of Microsoft in the government's anti-trust case, he was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg to head the NYC school system. His run has thus far been characterized by fighting with head of the school teachers union over issues that are near and dear to many of us on this blog.

A recent column by John Stossel made me realized that many in this country, particularly outside of NYC don't know who he is. You should. Take a minute to google him and see what you find out.

Here are a few money quotes from Stossel's column:
We tolerate mediocrity, and people get paid the same whether they're outstanding or whether they're average or, indeed, whether they're way below average.

Klein said that out of 80,000 teachers, only two have been fired for incompetence in the past two years. That's because it takes years for a principal to fire an incompetent teacher.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Nathan said...

Stossel's statements are at best ignorant. I say that as someone who trains teachers and understands the process a tad bit.

I understand your article reference was meant to somehow rally the troops in response to understanding how egregious this is. But, our educational system will have truly proved to have failed if you can't identify the spurious claims and lacking evidence in Stossel's report.

I would suggest that Klein is right to criticize and raise concerns. I would suggest, however, that the concerns and evidence raised by the NYFT is not out of bounds. Indeed, my understanding is that what has been found in research is that pay-for-performance does NOT work in most cases. In fact, the finding is that there is an opposite correlation.

Did I understand that you were a teacher, Nathan? If not, is there the possibility that you would talk to a few union folks and obtain their perspective on the issue - even off the record? What about taking a look at the issue of merit pay from the many studies completed thus far? We could look and let the facts fend for themselves...

I am not suggesting that we throw out the possibility of reform. But to union-blame as the sole source of issue is not the answer.

Something tells me you're smarter than that.

2/24/2006 1:07 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Here is what we know...

Heavily unionized industries are in worse shape than their counterparts. While most private businesses have been moving away from unions, government has been increasing union membership. Which is more likely - businesses have become so powerful that they can bypass the union protection that workers really want, or politicians are so reliant upon campaign contributions that they continue to support them when they (the tax payer) are footing the bill. Unions are very reluctant to change. It is the nature of a union to maintain the status quo. In manufacturing, the guy who puts in glove boxes isn't allowed to sweep the floors because that could threaten another's job. In education, holding teachers more accountable - and firing them if nec. - would mean that some would lose their jobs. This takes power away from the union.

You can make a study say whatever you want. Simple logic will tell you that when a group of people are preventing any change within an organization it is bound to fail.

I know plenty of teachers who despise unions. There are plenty who love them as well.

Finally - do you really think that out of 80,000 teachers only 2 deserved to be fired? Is this number comparable to any private business?

2/25/2006 11:15 PM  
Blogger The Wizard said...

I would say that probably more than two were incompetent, having spent a fair amount of time in classrooms with teachers who working on M.ED's...certainly there were a few who were not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

But I definately feel that teachers unions are necessary, because, like the police, teachers, doing possibly the most important job in a free society, are paid shit. Unions help mitigate this: But real education funding is essential as well, and while I might agree there are idiots among the rank and file, I also know that, prior, capricious Administrative firings of teachers for any number reasons were frighteningly common.

4/29/2006 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

1/07/2010 7:11 PM  

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