While teacher’s unions in California and New York have made it impossible to fire teachers — including those accused of sexual abuse — the teacher’s union in Washington State sought to get rid of six teacher’s who were awarded for their excellence.  The California Political Review has the story:

Last week, I wrote about the particularly egregious case of a teacher in Rochester, NY who sent sexually charged emails to her principal and was subsequently jailed for ignoring a restraining order. Upon her release, she returned to the classroom, and in short order was accused of fondling her middle school students. But due to her union’s pressure tactics, the school board cannot get rid of this tenured teacher.

Across the country in Seattle, we now have a situation where it would appear that the local teachers union may have success in getting six teachers removed from the district.

Pedophiles? Of course not. They are talented Teach For America teachers who have received good reviews from their principals. In what could be a new low for teachers unions – and that’s really saying something – it would appear that through heavy pressure from the Seattle Education Association, the Seattle School Board may terminate the contracts of the six teachers for absolutely no good reason.

Founded in 1990 by Princeton graduate Wendy Kopp, TFA chooses the best and the brightest – only one in eight are accepted into the program – and trains them to work in the nation’s worst schools. These committed and enthusiastic college graduates get five weeks of teacher training, ongoing support once in the classroom, and must commit to teach for two years.

The program has been very successful. But there is an anti-TFA animus among those for whom the status quo is next to godliness. The “problem” with TFA teachers is that they tend to be very idealistic and don’t fit into the cookie cutter mold that teacher unions so need and insist on. TFA teachers really care about teaching and frequently can’t abide the straitjacket rules inherent in every union contract.

On its website, SEA does its best to “inform” the public by posting nine reasons to oppose Teach for America’s intrusion into Seattle Public Schools.

For example, they say that TFA grads are not qualified and should be made to undergo traditional educational school training. But anyone who has set foot in an ed school knows that is ridiculous. I wrote about the problems with ed schoolshere, and Walter Williams, in a follow up to my piece, referred to ed schools in America as “the academic slums of most any college. American education can benefit from slum removal.” (He’s right. I became a better teacher after I forgot everything I learned in two wasted years getting my required teaching credential at Cal State Los Angeles.)

Another stated reason for the union’s desire to get rid of TFA is that its teachers “do not stay in the classroom.” But according to a recent Harvard study,

  • 43.6 percent of TFA corps members voluntarily remained in their initial low-income placement schools for more than two years and 14.8 percent stayed in those placements for more than four years.
  • 60.5 percent voluntarily remained in the teaching profession for more than two years and 35.5 percent stayed in teaching for more than four years.

The union then goes on to say that TFA does not improve student achievement. However, Liv Finne, Educational Director of Washington Policy Center, in testimony before the Seattle School Board on March 7, made the point that studies have consistently shown that TFA teachers are indeed highly successful. A few examples:

  • “The Effects of Teach for America on Students” (Mathematica Policy Research, 2004). Using random assignment of students to teachers, the gold standard for research methodology, this national study found that students of Teach for America teachers made more progress in a year in both reading and math than would typically be expected, and attained significantly greater gains in math compared with students of other teachers, including veteran and certified teachers. (Bold added.) This study also found that Teach for America teachers were working in the highest-need classrooms in the country, with students beginning the year on average at the 14% percentile against the national norm.
  • Tennessee: “Teacher State Report Card on Teacher Effectiveness” (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, 2011). The study found that Teach for America is the top teacher preparation program in the state of Tennessee: the average Teach for America teacher had greater impact on student achievement than the average new 4th – 8th grade teacher in Tennessee.(Bold added.)
  • North Carolina: “Impacts of Teacher Preparation on Student Test Scores in North Carolina: Teacher Portals” (Gary Henry and Charles Thompson 2010). Teach for America teachers did as well as or better than traditionally prepared UNC graduates. (Bold added.)
  • Louisiana: “Louisiana Value-Added Teacher Preparation Assessment Study (Louisiana Practitioner Teacher Project, 2009) Teach for America teachers perform like veteran certified teachers, better than new traditionally trained teachers. (Bold added.)

(For more TFA myth busting, read Andrew Rotherham’s excellent “Teach for America: 5 Myths That Persist 20 years On”)

The vote on whether or not to cancel the TFA contract will be held on March 21. There is hope in some quarters that the school board may show some spine and not cancel the contract. However, after the way the six teachers have been treated (some local “activists” posted personal information about them on a blog; shortly thereafter one of the teachers whose address was posted was burgled), it will hardly be a shock if the school board caves. Union bullies often employ very convincing methods to achieve their goals.

According to Finne, “The union’s effort to ban these teachers helps explain why Washington has been called an education reform backwater.” In fact, just about anywhere there is a strong teachers union, you will find great resistance to any meaningful educational reform. Too bad they don’t teach this simple fact in ed school.




10 Responses to Seattle’s Teacher’s Unions Oust Best and Brightest

  1. Dawne Tugade says:

    Yeh what she^ said…plus whats the point, theres never anything good in the money tree anyway

  2. Isa Longest says:

    I sent one to my daughter and she never recieved it,,, I did it the correct way no cheating here

  3. James says:

    If they’re the “best and brightest,” why is it they aren’t even capable of getting education degrees and becoming real teachers? Since when were the “best and brightest” so pathetic that they’re unable to commit to a profession?

    When children with play kitchens pretend to be chefs, we don’t call them chefs, nor do we pretend they’re the “best and brightest” and put them to work in restaurants; similarly, we shouldn’t call people who think a five-week crash course qualifies them for one of the most difficult and important professions in our society teachers.

    For those who disagree with me, a prerequisite for valid disagreement is that your comment must begin with the following pledge:

    “I promise to make every effort possible to ensure that my children are taught by a first-year Teach For America intern, whose only preparation for the responsibility of teaching my children is a five-week crash course, through each and every year of their primary and secondary education, and/or to wield every form of influence available to me to pressure other parents in my peer group to do likewise.”

    Anyone unwilling to subject their own children to Teach for America interns in every year of their children’s education, should demand that other people’s children get real teachers as well.

  4. Michael McOsker says:

    Re: “Tash”
    “…welfarites (sic) have cable and cell phones, HDTV and multiple pairs of $110 sneakers”. This is nothing more than cowardly, coded racism on the part of the commenter. It would be more honest for him or her to just say “I don’t like black people”. I’m sure that would be just fine with the majority of visitors to this very un-American website.

  5. Hoss says:

    Dennis you are a true Idiot if you believe what you just said! Union haters is right but why? Because Unions hate teaching kids…

  6. Tash says:

    Dennis, please You’ve hung around with the envious marixist welfare takers too long. Taxes are crippling people and they can’t afford to keep raising the salaries and benefits of govt union employees. Seniors can’t afford to live in the homes they’ve worked for and paid for for more than 30 years becaue the property and school taxes are too high. Everyone who has kids in the schools need to pay something. Since evern the welfarites have cable and cell phones, HDTV and multilple pairs of $100 sneakers, they need to put that money into education and save the entertainment and frivolities until they ahve decent jobs. Cutting off the cable and reading and doing schoolwork witll help them all.

  7. Tash says:

    NOw this makes no sense, and I’d like to see some real prooff of this. I’ve iknown some TFA teachers and they were very good, but not better than their non TFA colleagues. But they all left because the principal was so nasty and abusive.

  8. Dennis Schrader says:

    Since we only have union haters word for any of this, I would have to see a bipartisan report before I would believe any of it. You can find someone to back your view if you look hard enough on the internet.
    Republicans and the RTW people go hand in hand, The republicans want to cut educational funding and their republican buddies that run the NRTW repeats the views of the republicans. I bet that research would show it’s all republicans running it. They are so afraid of unions , they use any negative things they can find. I noticed the NRTW group lies about the total union membership , saying only 7% or union now ,but the truth is the union’s have around 11.7% of this nation’s work force. They lie about forced union dues and say people are forced to work for a union which also is a lie. Since more than 88% of the work force is non union , by anybody’s records,no one is forced to work for a union. If you started to work for a company that has a union, they tell you up front what the cost is going to be. If they vote a union in where a person is working , then they got out voted on the issue and they still can quit to work else where. Go tell your lies to the blind that follow you because they are hate mongers, jealous , envious or they don’t want people to have what they don’t like. Where is the freedom of choice , if you destroy unions because a group of people don’t like them????????? I think the NRTW and republicans have a lot of socialism in them. They want to take away from the middle class so the wealthy can rule and make all the money.

  9. J.W. says:

    No surprise Washington state teachers unions goal is to have the dumbest kids in the union. These kids coming out of Washington state schools are total morons. They don’t know anything other than the four subjects on the W.A.S.L. test.

  10. Hoss says:

    More Union Stupidity in this case.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *