Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Economist Walter Williams evaluates whether teachers are earning their huge salaries

I wanted to review a previous post before I go on to discuss some news regarding teacher’s unions and whether they contribute to improving the academic performance of their customers (students).

Here is my recent post about Walter Williams, on the education system.

I want to highlight this part where Williams explains how the schools that charge taxpayers the most money achieve the worst academic results for their customers (students):

The teaching establishment and politicians have hoodwinked taxpayers into believing that more money is needed to improve education. The Washington, D.C., school budget is about the nation’s costliest, spending about $15,000 per pupil. Its student/teacher ratio, at 15.2 to 1, is lower than the nation’s average. Yet student achievement is just about the lowest in the nation.

In that same post, I linked to an L.A. Times article about a charter school that produces amazingly high academic output for a tiny fraction of the cost, and with some very poor students who are from first-generation immigrant families that can barely speak English.

Here is the secret of this high-performing school:

That, it turns out, is just the beginning of the ways in which American Indian Public Charter and its two sibling schools spit in the eye of mainstream education. These small, no-frills, independent public schools in the hardscrabble flats of Oakland sometimes seem like creations of television’s “Colbert Report.” They mock liberal orthodoxy with such zeal that it can seem like a parody.

…School administrators take pride in their record of frequently firing teachers they consider to be underperforming. Unions are embraced with the same warmth accorded “self-esteem experts, panhandlers, drug dealers and those snapping turtles who refuse to put forth their best effort,” to quote the school’s website.

Read the whole post for the whole amazing story.

Below, Ed Morrissey explains why public schools suck up so much taxpayer money, while providing horrible results.

Do teacher unions help students to learn?

This is a MUST-READ story from Ed Morrissey, writing at Hot Air. (H/T Ace of Spades)

In a free market capitalist system, teachers, like other grown-ups, are paid based on their performance. Parents should have a choice of schools, and they should be able to pull their children out of any school that doesn’t produce a quality education for their customers, the children. But what happens when the government, to please their union supporters, decouples teacher pay from educational outcomes?

Yahoo News reports:

Hundreds of New York City public school teachers accused of offenses ranging from insubordination to sexual misconduct are being paid their full salaries to sit around all day playing Scrabble, surfing the Internet or just staring at the wall, if that’s what they want to do.

Because their union contract makes it extremely difficult to fire them, the teachers have been banished by the school system to its “rubber rooms” — off-campus office space where they wait months, even years, for their disciplinary hearings.

The 700 or so teachers can practice yoga, work on their novels, paint portraits of their colleagues — pretty much anything but school work. They have summer vacation just like their classroom colleagues and enjoy weekends and holidays through the school year.

…“You just basically sit there for eight hours,” said Orlando Ramos, who spent seven months in a rubber room, officially known as a temporary reassignment center, in 2004-05. “I saw several near-fights. `This is my seat.’ `I’ve been sitting here for six months.’ That sort of thing.”

Unbelievable. These unions got Obama elected and they are no different than the auto union workers who expect something for nothing. Who cares about whether children learn anything? So long as Democrat supporters get their taxpayer money, why should they have to produce any results?

Ed Morrissey continues:

If ever one wanted an argument against Card Check, this would be it.  Imagine if you will an entire private sector with “rubber rooms” filled with employees left dangling in limbo because their union contracts made them “extremely difficult to fire.”  There are enough teachers in these rooms in NYC to fill several schools, and yet the taxpayers are shelling out money to have them sit in rooms, play Scrabble, and act like children.

The Big Apple isn’t alone in this process, either.  Los Angeles has almost 200 teachers in rubber rooms at the moment.  Apparently, neither system has the competence nor the inclination to process wrongful conduct or poor-performance hearings with any speed, which is not just unfair to the taxpayers, but also unfair to those teachers wrongfully accused of either or both.

If this was the private sector, it would at least get handled expeditiously, as no business can afford to have hundreds of people sitting around and producing nothing.  Perhaps as well as a cautionary tale about Card Check and the expansion of unions, it also serves as warning to those who want to replace the private sector in health care and energy production with public employees instead.

This is why I am a small-government capitalist. I want Democrat-supporting unions abolished. Let them earn their salaries like everyone else who works in the free market economy. Consumers deserve performance in exchange for their hard-earned money. And if consumers don’t get value, we should demand refunds so that we can take our money to a competitor.

To understand why school choice matters, take look at this video posted over at the Heritage Foundation, featuring 14-year old Johnathan Krohn. Notice how he is the only one of the panel of 3 kids who isn’t reciting memorized facts but is actually make a cause-and-effect economics argument.

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One Response

  1. ECM says:

    Broken record time: if the Amish can managed to educate their children for $100/year, w/ kids from 1st-8th grade all sharing the same classroom at a level better than the PS system can at $10k (based on standardized testing in PA that everyone, including Amish children, must got through), why the hell are we paying this kind of money for inferior results?!

    Even better question: how can expenditures like this possibly be even remotely justified?!

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