Saturday, June 21, 2008

Our Education System is Underfunded


That's what your teacher's union, the largest lobby in the state of Minnesota, keeps feeding us.

You don't need to question the way they conduct the education of your children...they know what they are doing...don't need parental/taxpayer input - just shut up and give them more money.

...and it will never be enough.

I agree that teachers are underpaid, but we keep increasing funding to education, fully half the state's budget, and teachers make about the same they have always made.

The union doesn't want to pay teachers more money. They just want more teachers. Why? To gain more revenue and political power via membership - er - I mean to decrease class sizes.

But the myth of small classes mean better students has been busted.

...and the results? Teachers aren't doing a bad job. They are doing the same job as they have always done in Minnesota...but with a lot more of our money.

And then you read this:

This month 3,700 recent college grads will begin Teach for America's five-week boot camp, before heading off for two-year stints at the nation's worst public schools. These young men and women were chosen from almost 25,000 applicants, hailing from our most selective colleges. Eleven per cent of Yale's senior class, 9% of Harvard's and 10% of Georgetown's applied for a job whose salary ranges from $25,000 (in rural South Dakota) to $44,000 (in New York City).

It seems that Teach for America offers smart young people something even better than money – the chance to avoid the vast education bureaucracy. Participants need only pass academic muster and attend the summer training before entering a classroom. If they took the traditional route into teaching, they would have to endure years of "education" courses to be certified.

"On average, high school students taught by TFA corps members performed significantly better on state-required end-of-course exams, especially in math and science, than peers taught by far more experienced instructors. The TFA teachers' effect on student achievement in core classroom subjects was nearly three times the effect of teachers with three or more years of experience."

But what of tenure? What of "certification" by the Union?

What allows this "experiment" to succeed while our current system fails to deliver improvement commensurate with ever-increasing levels of funding?

I will tell you. One system has a real system of accountability. The other, does not. Guess which is which.

"We have always been a data-driven organization," says spokesman Amy Rabinowitz. "We have a selection model we've refined over the years." The organization figures out which teachers have been most successful in improving student performance and then seeks applicants with similar qualities. "It's mostly a record of high academic achievement and leadership in extracurricular activities."

Sounds like the way the private sector hires. Don't tell the teachers unions.

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