Towards Truly Progressive Education Unions
Conor Williams in the Huffington Post quotes from my article and shares his mixed feelings about supporting unionization, but not the teacher unions' behavior:
But I also know that teachers unions, in their current iteration, have lost their way. While teaching first grade in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, I saw the local union repeatedly step in to prevent the dismissal of incompetent, unqualified teachers. As a progressive, as a teacher whose students averaged more than two years of reading growth during my first year in the classroom, this made me apoplectic. This is particularly unjust because our schools are deeply segregated along socioeconomic lines. Our nation's worst teachers are clustered in our poorest neighborhoods, serving our neediest students -- and they have the same tenure protections as our best teachers (I'll bet you can guess which communities they're clustered in...). Until teachers unions show themselves willing to work on serious reforms to address this national injustice, many progressives will struggle to get fired up to defend them. In George Parker's (the former president of the Washington Teachers Union) words, "to improve education in this country, union presidents are going to have to get in front of reform."
Posted: March 24, 2011 04:15 PM