Friday, January 13, 2006
Why American kids are stupid
Few special interests are ruining this country more than teacher's unions, which have conspired to keep the U.S. behind most of the developed world in educating its children.
It's funny how some issues are branded conservative or liberal simply because of which political party a particular special interest is aligned with. Since teacher's unions are overwhelmingly Democratic, the idea of merit pay is considered a conservative idea. (In fact, Georgia's Republican governor just proposed an across-the-board, four percent pay hike for all the state's teachers. Coincidentially, he's up for re-election this year).
Actually, there's nothing political about it. Why should teachers be treated differently than any other professional sector? If you're good at your job, odds are you'll make more money. If you're bad, you'll probably end up losing it. But the teacher's unions have made a strange, Faustian arrangement that protects their weakest while punishing their best.
I had a teacher in high school who A.) advised me I shouldn't be a writer and B.) gosspied about which students might have AIDS. No joke. She had been around forever, and probably made more than the few skilled teachers I had.
So what do the teacher's unions have against merit pay? Check out this feeble offensive mounted by the president of the Georgia Association of Educators in Friday's Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She claims that teacher morale would be lowered in such a system due to "increased competition and divisiveness." And she argues teachers would be upset "because they (wouldn't) get the awards they deserved."
There is one solution: follow the trend within American education to reward everyone. Give trophies to all teachers, for everything from hygiene to best dressed. Everyone's a winner! There's no failure in public schools, unlike real life.
Considering the pitiful training most American students receive, everything should be on the table when it comes to education. I don't buy W.'s solution of more testing; I passed many exams during my educational career without learning anything. Apprenticeships would be a good start for high schoolers who show an aptitude or interest in a particular field.
But that might hurt a teacher's feelings. Can't have that.
I'd guess most Americans agree that teachers, good ones, should be paid more ... much more. The bad ones, meanwhile, should be bagging groceries, not earning tenure points.