By Victor Skinner
He understands the problems plaguing America’s public education system and he isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. That’s exactly what happened when Bush kicked off a summit this week in Washington, D.C. for the Foundation for Excellence in Education, the non-profit he founded.
“We need to have a teacher evaluation system that is based on teachers being professionals, not part of some collective trade union bargaining process,” Bush said, according to the Washington Times.
“We have a system to reward teachers that’s based on an industrialized, unionized model that is completely inappropriate for the 21st century,” he continued. “There are incredibly fine teachers that get paid less even though they’re doing the Lord’s work, consistently over time, and there are teachers that are mediocre that get paid more because they’ve been there longer.”
We couldn’t agree more, and it’s certainly refreshing to hear a prominent politician speak candidly about how Big Labor is dragging down public schools. His comments will undoubtedly encourage others with similar views to step up and speak their minds.
That’s important because teachers unions across the country are fighting new efforts to impose teacher accountability through evaluations tied to student performance.
A teachers strike in Chicago earlier this year ultimately resulted in student performance being used as only 30 percent of teacher evaluations – the minimal percentage allowed by state law.
In New York, Massachusetts, California, Florida, Maryland, Nevada and other states, unions have refused to endorse performance-based evaluation systems that are required before schools can receive millions in state and federal aid. In many cases district officials were depending on the money, so younger teachers likely will face layoffs to make up for their unions’ stubbornness.
The bottom line is America’s two largest teachers unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, appear to have little or no interest in developing the teacher evaluation and pay systems necessary to elevate the country’s lackluster education system.
It will take strong, straight-talking advocates like Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and countless others to educate the public about the real issues dragging down our schools.