Opinionated @ CFE

Education Policy in a Nutshell


The attitude of the education establishment can be easily summarized: “Ask us to try something different and we’ll just call it a waste of time and money. In fact, just give us more money to do the same thing we’ve been doing with no kind of institutional change and expect better results. And if it doesn’t work, you didn’t give us enough money. Whatever you do, don’t base any part of our compensation upon results, just on how long we can outlast the others.”

Teachers unions always talk out of both sides of their mouths. They tell us that they are advocates for quality education, but their actions and primary function are all about the Benjamins. Individual teachers and administrators may care, but they are ground up like so much steak in the meat grinder of powerful interests more concerned with money than educating kids.

Legislators do the same thing. They talk a good game about local control and letting teachers excel. When it come down to it, most of them end up making a big pile of rules for teachers to follow that does nothing but soak up time and make it impossible to innovate. Many school boards are no better. They treat professional adults like small children who are incapable of making decent judgment calls.

Anyone who supports this kind of entrenchment is an enemy to both quality education and the taxpayer. Get rid of the grandstanding legislators, the overbearing administrators, and the money-hungry unions and maybe, just maybe, we’ll see some exciting things happen in education.

8 Responses to Education Policy in a Nutshell

  1. I actually agree with you on some issues Jessee, but I must take great exception to the tone and content of this post.

    You are painting the Utah Education Association with a broad brush in a typical right wing conservative fashion. Calling the UEA a “money hungry union” and saying that teacher’s unions “talk out of both sides of their mouths” is an affront to the over 18,000 hard working men and women who make up the Utah Education Association.

    These people are your neighbors, fellow church member, and the people who do more with less year after year to educate your children. I would suggest that you sit down with those members of the UEA who make up the organization in your neighborhood or your child’s school and talk with them face to face. You are even welcome to drop into the association main offices and meet the association leaders and staff and discuss with them the dynamics and challenges of teaching Utah’s children in 2010.

    To paint any group of people with the same broad brush is common element of prejudice and bigotry—especially when it is done out of complete ignorance as this blog seems to indicate. If you were to take my suggestion, I am confident that you would find that you have far more in common with the “teacher’s union” in your concerns for educating Utah’s children than you ever thought possible.

  2. You may notice that I draw a very clear distinction between the union and its members. It’s the same distinction that you draw between the legislature and the people who vote for them. You can very easily go on the offensive at the leadership for their bad behavior without dragging anyone else into the fight.

  3. The flaw in your logic Jesse is obvious and reflects your lack of understanding. The teachers in the state of Utah ARE the Utah Education Association. An association is a group of people who come together having a common purpose. We elect our leaders who come from our ranks and delegate to them the authority to be our voice to the legislature and to the public at large. Each individual school faculty elects a faculty representative who attends regular meetings with other faculty representatives from the same school district to form the local association. All of the local associations in the state combine to make up the UEA.

    The association is truly a bottom up organization (unlike the LDS Church which is a top down organization.) The individual members in each local association elect delegates who meet twice a year at a statewide House of Delegates meeting. At this meeting propositions are made from the floor which are debated and voted on. It is these propositions that come from the membership which gives the elected leaders of the UEA their “marching orders” and directions for the coming year. We elect them to be our voice in the legislature and in statewide public relations, but we tell them what to say, what to do, and when to do it. They are an extension of us. When you say the “Union” is money grubbing and its leaders talk out of both sides of its mouth YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT US.

    You cannot simply cannot separate the members of the UEA from the leadership and say they are two different entities. This is a common fallacy that has been perpetuated by the conservatives in the Utah legislature for years. So many times you will hear them say that they are opposed to everything the “Teacher’s Union” represents, but that they support the “teachers” one hundred percent.

    You may disagree with the objectives and actions of the Utah Education Association, that is your right. But you cannot at the same time honestly claim to also support the 18,000 teachers who make up the UEA. That flawed argument just won’t cut it.

  4. The “we are the union” mantra holds little weight with me. I’ve watched unions completely hose their members on more than one occasion. In 2003, the unions in Nevada told their members to accept a small cut in benefits in exchange for a 1% pay increase during a tough budget fight. The membership agreed to it and once the pay change took effect, the union raised dues to eat it all up resulting in a net decrease in member compensation. Sounds like a big disconnect between leadership and membership to me. I don’t have much reason to believe it would be different anywhere else.

    I would also pose that the union sucks at achieving its goals. If the goal is to increase member compensation, they have failed; teacher salaries have been flat for four decades. If the goal is to increase student performance, they have failed; student performance has been flat over the same time period. What exactly is the reason for the unions if they can’t even accomplish their top two stated priorities?

  5. Your stubborn prejudice and ignorance on this topic makes further discussion a waste of my time. I’ll not confuse you with any more facts since your mind is already made up. Have a nice day.

  6. Ronald D. Hunt

    “I would also pose that the union sucks at achieving its goals.”

    Utah State is extremely hostile towards all Unions and the State would love nothing more then to dismantle the UEA along with any other unions that have the nerve of being in the State.

    UEA faces a legislature that would love to pass a voucher program, remove teacher tenner, move to year by year contracts, further cut school budgets. ETC. The State has already managed to end new hire pension benefits, and I expect them to go after health benefits soon as that is fastest increase cost effecting the State budget. I wonder how many teachers can afford to be on a High deductible health insurance plan?

    If the UEA tried any action to improve their wages/benefits/overall school funding/etc the legislature would use that as an excuse to pass all kinds of Wimmer style legislation via the political opening that such actions would create.

    The UEA is in a very tense balancing act with the State, The teachers trying to keep their voices heard while not stepping on the wrong reactionary set of toes.

  7. JBT: I just presented some facts as to why I hold a very low opinion of teachers unions. Your failure to counter with anything more than emotionally-charged rhetoric is on you, not me.

    Ronald: That might explain the last few years, but not the last few decades. What’s the excuse for that? Has it occurred to you that this long-standing poor track record could be the reason for the hostility, not to mention the kind of invective you’re just hurled in their direction? It takes two to tango.

  8. Ronald D. Hunt

    The teachers Union (all unions really) have been in this position sense the conservative revolution in the 1980’s, So its not just the past few years.

    The UEA really has devolved into something that more closely resembles a lobbying group then a union, And yea that has gotten them into trouble more then once. And I would agree that they do deserve criticism for their behaviour.

    And don’t get me wrong I am not backtracking, The State legislature deserves every last bit of “invective” I have thrown out.

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