July 25, 2012Almost everyone can remember that one teacher who changed their life; the teacher who stimulated education and personal development of their students by virtue of teaching their subject well. A good teacher can truly change the trajectory of a child’s life.
Right now, a subcommittee of the House Education and Workforce Committee is thinking about eliminating some Highly Qualified Teacher (HQT) rules in order to improve American education. HQT rules prevent school districts nationwide from hiring talented applicants simply because they do not hold a “traditional” teaching certificate. Along this vein, the subcommittee called a hearing yesterday to discuss alternative teacher certification programs.
Seth Andrew, a Harvard graduate and a superintendent of Democracy Prep Public Schools in Harlem, NY, gave potent testimony at the hearing. He brought up points which—backed by empirical data...
July 16, 2012Under a law signed by former President George W. Bush, all unions must publicly disclose their assets and expenses. Such disclosures reveal the political contributions made by unions and the salaries of top union officials.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal used the public data to examine the broad array of political contributions of the two most powerful teachers' unions -- the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. Over the weekend, Fox News used the data to show that union bosses make ten times more than the average American worker.
The data does, however, reveal another trend in the labor movement: Due in part...
July 5, 2012No one should be forced to join or contribute to any organization if they do not want to do so. This principle forms the bedrock of our society, yet influential Americans still disagree with it.
For instance, Richard Trumka, president of AFL-CIO, thinks that liberty means the “the freedom to bargain collectively." However, Trumka does not understand that the First Amendment to the Constitution grants two freedoms as part of its charter. That is, Americans possess the freedom both to associate and to refrain from associating.
Some influential labor unions also seem unwilling to accept the full implications of associative rights. In 2005, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) launched a plan to stop a free-speech ballot initiative. This initiative aimed to prevent SEIU from...
June 29, 2012Appalled by the $22.4 billion fiscal millstone that the public teacher pension fund (MPSERS) has become, Michigan lawmakers hope to make long-overdue structural reforms. In particular, the Michigan Senate is now considering a new “Hybrid” pension plan that would bring retirement benefits more in line with the defined-contribution plans so often utilized by the private sector. If Michigan -- a state whose economic struggles are well documented -- can achieve fiscal stability, the rest of America should take note.
While Hybrid systems cannot wreak any more havoc than defined-benefit plans do now, they still bear similar risks. If the “normal cost” of MPSERS -- the amount needed to prefund a year’s worth of retirement benefits --...
June 19, 2012This last May, a California teacher named Michelle Apperson received a pink slip from the Sacramento City schools. Yet she was not let go because of poor classroom performance. In fact, only a few weeks before her dismissal, she received the “Teacher of the Year” award for her school district. According to ABC News and the Huffington Post, a severe budget shortfall forced the district to lay off Ms. Apperson.
Still, the Huff Post neglects to mention an important cause of the incident: California’s teacher unions. When given the choice between renegotiating a favorable contract and simply firing newer teachers, the unions consistently choose the latter. In fact, these unions favor a California state...