I don’t think anyone could seriously say that teachers shouldn’t be involved in shaping education policy. Besides their obvious expertise and importance in student success, as the primary actors in implementing any reform it would be both illogical and impractical to ignore their input. But that doesn’t mean that they should take the lead. Teachers shouldn’t be the primary shapers of education policy because they have material interests in the system independent of its effectiveness. Education policy should be guided by actors that are solely interested in what is best for students.
Let me be clear. I am not suggesting that interests of teachers and interests of students or opposed–in other words, that teachers do not want their students to be successful. But it’s indisputable that teacher and student interests are not identical. Last-in first-out layoff policies? Nearly unbreakable tenure guarantees? Blocking of meaningful teacher evaluation systems? While certainly in the interests of teachers, those sorts of policies are at best marginally helpful to students. And that’s a problem. We should be able to point to every facet of our educational system and explain how it is the most efficient and effective way to help kids learn. Teachers primarily shaping policy won’t get us to that point.
Jacob Waters of A Skeptic’s Politics, explaining why teachers are not the most-important players — or in many cases, the only ones that matter — when it comes to structuring American public education.
Among critics of high-stakes standardized testing it has become popular to imply that the multiple-choice testing format is inherently inadequate and inferior. This has always been a little puzzling because in practice teachers frequently create and administer multiple-choice tests on their own so it’s not as if there’s a broad professional consensus in education that such assessments are meaningless or shouldn’t be given to students.
Paul Bruno pointing to the cognitive dissonance of those opposed to standardized testing.
There were fewer applications from districts in states with stronger unions than from districts whose unions are weaker. While 10.2 percent of districts from states with the weakest unions applied to the program, only 5.2 percent of districts from states with the strongest ones did the same. And though other factors (such as geographic location and the political leanings of the states) may explain some of the variation in application rates, it does seem like states with weaker unions had more opportunity to apply. This opt-in bias stemmed from one condition of the 2012 RTTT-D competition: applicants must have union support in order to participate. And there are several examples of this stipulation deterring districts from applying…
For better or worse, the union sign-off requirement of Race To the Top appears to have disadvantaged districts in strong-union states. But are all districts with strong, resistant unions really incapable of change? In the end, it seems unproductive to mandate that all unions and district officials work together—to do so ignores the political reality that, despite effective district planning, many unions act inordinately in their own self-interest.
Greg Hutko of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, noting the consequences of the Obama administration’s insistence on cooperation between states, districts, and their National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers affiliates as a condition for successfully participating in Race to the Top and other competitive grant-driven reform efforts.