The Message of Union Defense
A whopping 300 union teachers and organizers showed up for a weekend event at URI’s Ryan Center to back the opinion stated, as follows, by National Education Association Rhode Island President Larry Purtill:
In Rhode Island, he said, many teachers distrust state Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist and her aggressive approach to changes that echoes the priorities of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
These include rigorous teacher evaluations, removing ineffective teachers, overhauling the nation’s worst-performing schools and expanding public charter schools.
Message: We don’t want change! Especially if it means evaluations and targeting those union members who are most vulnerable… because incompetent.
There is, however, one theme that’s worth teasing out of the bunch, because it relates to a frequently made point:
Paul Taillefer, president-elect of the Canadian Teachers Federation, noted several key differences between the two countries, including Canada’s more robust teacher selection, preparation and mentoring programs, the high regard society has for teachers and a stronger social safety net for students.
“We have medical and food programs that extend beyond the school walls that help students and level the playing field,” he said. …
“Her favorite refrain is, ‘We can’t make any excuses,'” [North Kingstown High School history teacher Jay] Walsh said. “Well, we aren’t making any excuses. When we ask these questions, we are trying to acknowledge that what we do in the classroom is connected to many other things outside of the classroom.”
I don’t support pursuing a government as broad as Canada’s, but if the problem hindering our students’ success lies outside of the education system, then we need to change the way we allocate resources to address that. If teachers aren’t the key, then we should decrease our spending on them and target factors that really would help us, as a society, achieve our objectives.