The true enemies of reform

Two stories from todays Boston Herald spotlight the pervasive and negative power the teachers unions have over our government. In the first case, the union is standing in the way of their members receiving a bonus for being outstanding at their job.

“The Boston Teachers Union staunchly opposes a performance bonus plan for top teachers – launched at the John D. O’Bryant School in 2008 and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates and Exxon Mobil foundations – insisting the dough be divvied up among all of a school’s teachers, good and bad.

“It’s insanity,” said Jim Stergios, executive director of the nonpartisan Pioneer Institute. “They’re less concerned about promoting the interest of individual members than maintaining control over their members.”

As a product of public schools I can tell you that I had some fantastic, dedicated and in a couple of cases inspiring teachers. I also had more than a few that were clearly just collecting a paycheck and counting the days until they could retire. Excellence, in whatever field should be rewarded. If the deadwood teachers receive a bonus just for showing up it sends the wrong message.

The other issue has to do with charter schools. If you want to see an official at the National Education Association lapse into a blinding, spittle producing rage just mention the words charter school. It takes a special person to become a teacher at a charter school. They are generally required to work longer hours and are expected to be more invested in their students success. They are the type of teacher that our education system is in dire need of and they are enemy number one of the education lobby. Massachusetts with the support of Governor Patrick is trying to expand the number of charter schools in our state and the education lobby is having none of it.

“School unions swarmed the State House yesterday, leaning on lawmakers to snuff key aspects of an education reform plan that would allow more charter schools – a move that could cost the cash-strapped state $250 million in federal funding.”

“Senate lawmakers advanced the bill last night after two days of bruising debate, but House lawmakers seemed doubtful the legislation would pass today, the last day of formal sessions this year.

“Who really controls the lawmaking process here? Is it the elected officials or is it the labor unions?” asked Rep. Jeff Perry (R-Sandwich), who sits on the education committee.”

These unions, which typically can’t get enough funding from the public trough are willing to leave money on the table in their effort to stifle reform. They are more interested in protecting their turf than seeing the children that desperately need a better education system get one. It’s their government, at least in Massachusetts, we just pay the bills.