Thursday, May 17, 2007

The NYC Model

Since schools in New York City are the very best there are, and we have no problems whatsoever, systems everywhere look to us for an example. There's no overcrowding, class sizes are optimal, parents are universally satisfied, and goshdarn it, this reorganization promises to be even better than the last two reorganizations.

Back in the real world, the LA Times is running an editorial condemning the LA teachers' union for being "the most regressive force in the L.A. Unified School District." I gotta envy LA teachers in many respects. They seem to be taking at least somewhat of a stand. Our union, on the other hand, has drawn kudos from the likes of ex-US Secretary of Education Rod Paige, who likens the NEA to a terrorist organization. The LA Times seems to concur:

Unions don't have to be dinosaurs, and not all are. The New York City teachers union supported mayoral control of the schools there, and it is calling for new ways to draw good teachers to troubled schools. On Friday, the New York union's president, Randi Weingarten, will be visiting Green Dot charter schools with an eye to possible partnerships. There can be no more important job for the new L.A. board and the mayor than to push UTLA in the same direction.

Green Dot charter schools are interesting to me. I was thrilled when Eduwonk featured its founder, Steve Barr, as a guest blogger. I thought unionized charters were a hopeful sign for innovative education. But it turns out there's no tenure in Mr. Barr's variety of union, and the LA Times urges teachers to toss it out the classroom window.

While Ms. Weingarten has proven quite expert in tossing things out the classroom window (like prep time, days off, due process, increases that keep up with cost of living, and seniority), I certainly hope Mr. Barr does not prevail upon her to further demonstrate how flexible she can be.

Because every time Randi Weingarten shows the world how reasonable she is, we pay the cost. And unfortunately, NYC kids have yet to reap any substantive benefits from Ms. Weingarten's willingness to bend whichever way the wind blows.

That's not leadership, and that's not the kind of example I want to set for any kid in my charge.

Thanks to Norm.
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