Jenny EriksonWhat is it with teachers' unions these days? In Milwaukee, they want their Viagra. In Los Angeles, they don't want to be held accountable. A.J. Duffy, the president of United Teachers Los Angeles, has been hard at work organizing a boycott of the L.A. Times after the paper dared to publish a series of articles focusing on teacher effectiveness.
The articles used past and present student test scores to evaluate each teacher's effectiveness in the classroom. The results (shockingly) showed discrepancies among the teachers in the district, many even in the same schools.
Mr. Duffy has called for a boycott of the Times because it's "leading people in a dangerous direction, making it seem like you can judge the quality of a teacher by ... a test."
Let me get this straight -- it's dangerous to judge someone's competence by testing? I hate to break it to Mr. Duffy, but life is a series of tests, and the results are positive or negative based on how well you perform. If you fail biology, you have to take summer school. If you fail your driver's test, you don't get to drive. If you fail to set the oven timer, everyone will have dry chicken and burnt potatoes for dinner.
In the working world, promotions and raises are based not on longevity, but on your effectiveness in the workplace. If you're good at what you do, you work hard, and you bring results, you will probably go far in your chosen profession.
I suspect that the teachers' union is afraid that we'll figure out that their system doesn't work like that. The current system for teacher assessment consists of "brief, preannounced classroom visits," with almost all teachers receiving a passing grade.
Where is the accountability? Frankly, I'm surprised that there are effective teachers out there at all. It shows that there are still some in the game purely for the love of teaching. Because what motivation is there to be effective in your job if the numb-skull down the hall is going to get the same evaluation you got?
Let's face it: Teachers are people, and not all people are the same. Our kids deserve to have effective teachers, and we parents deserve to have a media that holds our public workers, including teachers, accountable.
As our kids go back to school, don't forget to do your own teacher evaluation, and don't be shy to have your child placed in a different classroom if needed. Parent involvement and teacher accountability, not unions and boycotts, are the keys to making our educational system great again.