Monday, August 29, 2011

Steven Brill and the Value of Abandoning the NEA/AFT Model

Here's RiShawn Biddle, who's skeptical that the unions will embrace any meaningful reform unless placed under enormous pressure:

But the most-interesting of Brill's arguments isn't those about teaching, or even his ultimate Nixon goes to China" proposition of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg hiring American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten for the already ably-filled chancellor spot. It's his proclamation that the AFT and its sister (and rival) union, the National Education Association, can "help to create" reforms that allow for "ordinary teachers" to do good-to-great work if coaxed in the right direction. It is interesting in light of what has been happening over the past decade — and also the one most-likely to never happen until two unions lose enough members and influence to force that change.

…The emergence of Parent Power groups which, as Dropout Nation reported earlier this month, the AFT and NEA both consider to be threats, will also be key. Parents unions, in particular, may end up turning the teachers' union model on its head, finally gathering families into organized groups who can go toe-to-toe with NEA and AFT affiliates in every arena. It will also end the penchant among NEA and AFT leaders to behave arrogantly and condescendingly towards families — especially those from poor and minority backgrounds — acting as if they are to only be (barely) seen and never heard.

And finally, the expansion of school choice, along with the development of online and blended learning, can substantially force the NEA and AFT into the reform direction. The former will allow families to leave failure factories and mills of mediocrity, reducing the footprint of the traditional districts that teachers' union affiliates have under their thumb. The latter will allow for even more students to choose alternative learning methods and new schools that are outside NEA and AFT influence.

Brill is right that the NEA and AFT need to embrace school reform in full. But coaxing won't be enough. They may only fully back reform once they have suffered more losses.


Steven Brill and the Value of Abandoning the NEA/AFT Model

August 16, 2011 No Comments by RiShawn Biddle

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