Unions vs. Children

 

By and large, teachers are wonderful people who dedicate their lives to helping children achieve their full potential. Their unions, by contrast, have a very different mission.

Take the Great Chicago Library Lockout of 2017, for example. As a parent recently described in the Wall Street Journal, Pritzker Elementary in Chicago had to lay off its librarian due to a combination of budget cuts and lower-than-expected enrollment, so parents volunteered to help out to keep the library open. According to Michael Hendershot, whose daughter attends Prtizker, “There was so much interest that the parent-teacher organization created a rotating schedule of regular volunteers to help out.” That’s when the Chicago Teachers Union (and affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers) intervened:

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DeVos, Detroit, and a False Media Narrative

 

In advance of today’s confirmation hearings for Betsy DeVos, the nominee for Secretary of Education, defenders of the status quo have been spinning a narrative about her reform efforts in Detroit that runs contrary to all available evidence.

In op-eds, editorials, and editorials veiled as news, the New York Times has pushed the narrative that in Detroit, “charter schools often perform no better than traditional schools, and sometimes worse.” However, as Max Eden and I show at Education Next today, all the available data show that charter schools in Detroit significantly outperform their traditional district counterparts.

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State Board of Education Ignores Pols, Parents; Rubber Stamps Common Core

 

After a raucous 2014 election year for Arizona’s office for Superintendent of Public Instruction, only 16,034 votes separated the outcome of the 2014 election results between Diane Douglas and David Garcia. One would like to suggest Douglas’ opposition to the top-down, federal, one-sized-fits-all standards helped ensure she was the victor. This was a coup for the parents who despised the unconstitutional federal outreach in their children’s classrooms – later only to learn the fox was in the hen house all along.

A quick history lesson on Common Core in Arizona. In 2010, the Arizona State Board of Education adopted Common Core standards for all public schools throughout Arizona. As these standards were being implemented, parents and practitioners alike started to have difficulty learning and teaching them.

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DNA and Racism

 

Have you seen the recent commercials that promote people having DNA tests? They show a man who is shocked to find out he should be dancing in kilts instead of lederhosen. And there is the woman who clearly has an American accent who says when she travels, people ask where she is from—and she assumes they are asking about her cellular history. Several people report that they now feel “complete,” knowing their personal DNA. It’s fascinating to see how people respond to their results.

One teacher at West Chester University in Pennsylvania has identified a creative and educational way to use DNA tests: to explore questions about racism. Her name is Anita Foeman; she was doing consulting work in the area of race mediation and was using DNA testing as one tool. Her goal, rather than causing confrontation, was to help people recognize their biases and create an environment where people could speak about race in a constructive and positive way. She brought her experiences into the university environment.

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Want Satisfied Parents? Empower Them to Choose

 

Parents are more satisfied with their child’s learning environment when they choose it. Indeed, as economist Tyler Cowen put it recently, “the single most overwhelming (yet neglected) empirical fact” about educational choice programs is that “they improve parent satisfaction.” A slew of new reports add a number of hefty boulders to the mountain of evidence.

As I explained in greater detail last week, bureaucrats tend to focus excessively on test scores but parents take a more holistic approach to evaluating the quality of an education provider. As Cowen notes, “parents may like the academic programs, teacher skills, school discipline, safety, student respect for teachers, moral values, class size, teacher-parent relations, parental involvement, and freedom to observe religious traditions, among other facets of school choice.” Parents know their children are more than scores.

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A Strange New Respect for the Right? Part One

 

shutterstock_118040215Elections have consequences — above all, presidential elections, especially presidential elections that produce majorities in the House and the Senate for the party of the President-elect. Donald Trump’s election should have produced a bit of rethinking on the part of the Democrats in Congress. So far, however, there is little evidence for that. Instead, the Democrats appear to be circling the wagons and devoting their attention to what the feminists forty years ago called “consciousness-raising.” In the House, they re-elected as their leader the superannuated woman who drove them into a ditch, and there is a move afoot within the party, supported by the minority leader in the Senate, to select as chairman of the Democratic National Committee the most radical member of the House — an admirer of the Muslim Brotherhood who for a time flirted with Louis Farrakhan and who once compared 9/11 with the Reichstag Fire. In the mainstream press, what one reads from liberal commentators these days is mostly rant; and, on the campuses, there has been a descent into childishness, and temper tantrums seem the norm. With his tweets, Donald Trump seems to be playing the hysterical Left like a piano. Where, one is sorely tempted to ask, is the adult wing of the Democratic Party?

Here and there one finds a hint that there might still be adults in that hoary institution and that they suspect that it might be a good idea to stop demonizing their opponents and to begin examining their thinking. This is not happening anywhere on the campuses of our major universities, as far as I can tell. There, as never before, the wagons are being circled, and consciousness-raising has been mainstreamed. It is easy to demonize those who dissent — Barack Obama legitimized the practice by showing how it is done — and there is next to no one on any of these campuses capable of fighting back. For a very long time, the leading institutions of higher learning have been reluctant to hire, much less tenure, known conservatives. At a conference held at Harvard three years ago, one faculty member remarked to me that what he called “the entire Republican caucus of Harvard College” was in the room. They were three in number. At Yale, these days, there is, I believe, only one conservative on the faculty, and he is a computer scientist. When it comes to opening up minds and considering the arguments articulated by those who strongly disagree with current fashion, our universities will be last in line (if they get in line at all).

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Is the American Dream in Trouble? And If So, Is the Answer Opportunity or Redistribution?

 

stallingIn 2014 researchers had some reassuring news about whether America was still the Land of Opportunity. As the New York Times characterized the findings, “The odds of moving up — or down — the income ladder in the United States have not changed appreciably in the last 20 years.” So a pleasant surprise — of course it could be better — on the issue of relative social mobility. Stable was the new up.

But what about absolute mobility? It’s a slightly different question. Do kids earn more than their parents? Here, according to new research from the same group, the findings are disheartening. From the Wall Street Journal:

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School Choice Program Saved up to $3.4 Billion for Taxpayers

 

shutterstock_520970764By choosing Betsy DeVos as his nominee for the Department of Education, Donald Trump has proven his seriousness about increasing school choice and ending the Beltway’s micromanagement of local education. But whether the subject is charter schools, vouchers, distance learning, or education savings accounts, the teachers’ unions have cried foul. Their interest isn’t students, parents, or even individual teachers, but rather preserving their cut of the $670 billion K-12 market.

One set of programs that flies somewhat under the radar are tax-credit scholarship programs. Available in 15 states, they let individuals and corporations donate to scholarship granting organizations in return for tax credits. The organizations then use the donations to give scholarships to students to offset tuition payments at a private school of their families’ choice. A win-win, right? Well, union bosses don’t think so.

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Trump Picks School Choice Champion to Run Ed Dept

 

90In a perfect world, the President-elect would dissolve the Department of Education, salt the earth, and erect a charter school in its place. But a close second is nominating a Secretary of Education who will take on the meddling DC bureaucrats and ossified teachers’ unions. Trump did just that today by naming school choice enthusiast Betsy DeVos to the post.

“Under her leadership we will reform the U.S. education system and break the bureaucracy that is holding our children back so that we can deliver world-class education and school choice to all families,” Mr. Trump said in a statement.

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What Trump’s First 100 Days Might Mean for Education Policy

 

School ChoicePresident-Elect Donald Trump has released his plans for his first 100 days in office. After outlining proposals for term limits, a trade war, and mass deportations, the plan includes the following paragraph on education policy:

School Choice And Education Opportunity Act. Redirects education dollars to give parents the right to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice. Ends common core, brings education supervision to local communities. It expands vocational and technical education, and make 2 and 4-year college more affordable.

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Yale, Beyond the Pale

 

shutterstock_278796842In his recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Yale President Peter Salovey tried to explain how colleges can make room for both freedom of speech and a culture of inclusion and diversity. Salovey wants to have his cake and eat it, too. The supposed tension between free speech and inclusion is false, he argues, because it is possible to pursue both ends simultaneously.

Several days later, Yale was again in the news for its sexual harassment tribunals. As Jennifer Braceras explains in her op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, “College Sex Meets the Star Chamber,” Yale’s current policy on sexual harassment has led to a massive expansion of Yale’s control over the life of its faculty, students, and staff. At first, look, Salovey’s defense of free speech and inclusion seems unrelated to Braceras’s argument about the reach of Yale’s sexual harassment directive. But they are part of the same problem.

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