Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.



August 2010

Teachers Union Threatens LAT Boycott Over Teacher Effectiveness Analysis

Written by , Posted in Education, Free Markets, Labor Unions

It’s hard to imagine a teacher’s union making themselves even more despicable and obstructionist, but they’ve found a way.  First, the Los Angeles Times published an analysis on teacher performance:

With Miguel Aguilar, students consistently have made striking gains on state standardized tests, many of them vaulting from the bottom third of students in Los Angeles schools to well above average, according to a Times analysis. John Smith’s pupils next door have started out slightly ahead of Aguilar’s but by the end of the year have been far behind.

In Los Angeles and across the country, education officials have long known of the often huge disparities among teachers. They’ve seen the indelible effects, for good and ill, on children. But rather than analyze and address these disparities, they have opted mostly to ignore them.

Most districts act as though one teacher is about as good as another. As a result, the most effective teachers often go unrecognized, the keys to their success rarely studied. Ineffective teachers often face no consequences and get no extra help.

…Though the government spends billions of dollars every year on education, relatively little of the money has gone to figuring out which teachers are effective and why.

This is exactly what one would expect from an industry shielded from the competitive pressures of the market, and instead dominated by the influence of powerful unions.  In a free market, understanding what makes one teacher successful over others would be a top priority as schools seek to attract students by providing the highest quality education possible. But our public education system is more like a jobs program for union members, and it’s too much of a bother for them to worry about the little things like whether or not students are learning and why.

Rather than attempt to improve upon their performance and learn from this analysis, the LA Times reports that union leaders are threatening to boycott the paper.

The Los Angeles teachers union president said Sunday he was organizing a “massive boycott” of The Times after the newspaper began publishing a series of articles that uses student test scores to estimate the effectiveness of district teachers.

“You’re leading people in a dangerous direction, making it seem like you can judge the quality of a teacher by … a test,” said A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles, which has more than 40,000 members.

Duffy said he would urge other labor groups to ask their members to cancel their subscriptions.

Measuring teacher quality based on student performance, how outrageous!