Skip to comments.Union Boss Tells Poor: “Life’s Not Fair”
Posted on 02/08/2012 7:06:25 PM PST by neverdem
The hypocrisy of opponents of school choice schemes has never been a big secret. But rarely has that quality been so brazenly exhibited as by Vincent Giordano, the head of the New Jersey Education Association, in a recent interview on New Jersey public television. When asked why he opposes giving poor parents the same opportunity to take their kids out of failing public schools and into successful private or religious institutions the wealthy have, the teachers union boss, who makes more than half a million in salary and other compensation, replied: "Life's not always fair."
Giordano, who has been a major antagonist of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, has been doing his best to obstruct education reform in the Garden State. And, like all teachers union officials, he is ready to fight to the death to prevent school choice plans that would allow parents to use the money the state allocates to educate their kids to purchase better education than is often provided in failing public schools. But perhaps it is unfair to single out Giordano as he is no more of a hypocrite on this matter than President Obama.
Obama, it should be recalled, did his best to end a successful experiment in school choice in the District of Columbia that allowed some poor children to escape the collapsing D.C. public education system and go to elite private schools like the Sidwell Friends School. Of course, Sidwell happens to be good enough for the president's two daughters but not for the poor.
Obama and his teachers union allies are determined to defend the public school monopoly at all costs and oppose all efforts to allow parents to use state aid to educate as they think best. Their top down model suits the unions and their liberal political allies but not the nation's children. Their answer to the needs of the poor who are victimized by failing public schools is always a form of the "life's not always fair" answer given by Giordano even when it is not uttered with such shamelessness.
The question that must be put to them remains the same that advocates of choice have been asking for decades: Are not the children of the poor made in the image of God the same as that of the wealthy? And if so, how dare our nation's leaders and educators value their liberal ideological prejudices in favor of state schools over the best interests of the children?
Nice to have a teachers’ union honcho let us know his contempt for the average American. And another reason to homeschool, as if there weren’t more than we can keep track of.
Life isn’t fair.
After Reagan's "Nation At Risk" report on the abyssmal state of education in America, many efforts were made on behalf of Choice and introducing market ideas into the monopoly which has existed for years. The following report was submitted to a North Carolina Task Force on that subject during those years. No improvements were made, but the report cites many of the people and efforts then under way.
Keep in mind that what follows is 20+ years old, and you will see that the mindset outlined in the original article on this thread existed then and now.
"If U.S. businesses were insulated from the demands of consumers, and capable of surviving regardless of how inefficiently they served the interests of consumers, we would be an impoverished country with no hope of being competitive in the world economy....A system that does not allow consumers to reward those schools which are performing well and to withdraw support from those schools which are performing poorly cannot be expected to meet America's educational needs." - Dr. Dwight Lee
I. Allow the consumer (parents, students and local citizens) to control the education of their young. John E. Chubb, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution recently stated that the key determinant of effective schools "turns out to be autonomy. Successful schools," he said, " are relatively independent of external influence by administrators: superintendents, central office bureaucrats and union officials. A school that was free to chart its own course was much more likely to develop effective organization and thereby breed academic achievement." Dr. George Roche, Historian and philosopher, college president and former chairman of a presidential education commission, states, "What originated as local schooling, supported by taxation in the immediate community (and therefore somewhat responsive to local and parental wishes) has inexorably moved toward bureaucratic bigness--the fate of all publicly funded projects." Mr. Chubb: "The system has to be turned upside down. It has to be governed less from the top and more from the bottom, less by politics and administration, more by markets and choice....The basic lesson that I think business has to teach our educational systems is that they will run much better if the consumer, parents, and the students of the systems are sovereign in the system, if they are the ones to whom the system is ultimately accountable. It works worst when it is accountable to politicians and administrators and state capitals and Washington." Local control, with the state's role confined to the setting of broad policy goals and performance standards, will allow a school to organize its spending, its hiring and firing, its curriculum development, its incentives in such a way that it responds to its consumers' for quality education, making it able to attract and hold students because answers their need, according to Denis P. Doyle, co-author of "Winning the Brain Race." It is simply not true that the people themselves are a less reliable guard against erosion of educational quality than are the political leaders, the educational establishment, and the various bureaucratic agencies. Dr. Roche cites a critic's quip: "Is it possible that 'education' is too important to be left to the educators?"--or, for that matter, to the state and federal governments?
II. Reorganize public education on the basis of the principles of competition and choice. This, again, from John E. Chubb, whose Brookings Institution has just completed a massive 4-5 year study of U.S. high schools--the largest comprehensive study of high schools ever completed. He says, "to improve schools, you have to give them autonony. But you cannot just give principals and teachers the keys to the school without any of holding them accountable....The only way that you can give them autonomy, yet provide some accountability to society, is to have those schools with autonomy compete with one another for the support of parents and students....That means moving from a system that is organized as it is right now, from the top down, to a system where schools are not entitled to any enrollments or any financial support unless they are able to attract students and parents." He pointed out that there is another kind of school in this country that has autonomy, organizes effectively, and is doing well. "The reason," he said, "is that...(these) private schools are in a market. They are competing with one another for the support of parents and students. If they do not get the support of parents and students, they go out of business. It is that simple." "Market competition," he added, "is what leads private schools to decentralize their organization...because if your first objective is to keep parents and students happy, how are you going to organize? Are you going to put all the authority somewhere far away in a state capital where parents cannot reach it? Of course not." A January l989 New York Times Education feature declared: "Conservatives see school choice as a way of injecting a dose of free enterprise into the educational system. Liberals see it as a way of giving the poor the same freedom the rich have." The Minnesota experience with choice is encouraging. So are others. As The Honorable "Pete" DuPont stated recently, "The American people understand how much better off they would be if they could choose their schools. Most of all, the poor understand it, because they continue to be the biggest supporters of vouchers...States and localities should be able to provide vouchers or other funding mechanisms so that all families can choose the education that best fits their needs...there will still be some who won't like the idea. We know the teachers' unions won't like it. We know...all the bureaucrats and interest groups who depend upon the status quo for their living (won't like it). But we know we can be better than the l2th best education system in the world, and communities will not be afraid to ruffle a few feathers to get it." He said: "...protectionism...resisting change instead of facilitating it, is always counterproductive....Ultimately the only change that really matters is to end the public sector monopoly over education and let the private sector compete to restore freedom, choice, discipiline and excellence to American education."
III. Eliminate tenure. Allow teaching professionals to perform within the same framework as all other working people, including other professionals. Such a move would provide almost instantaneous improvement in the schools of N. C. and would be almost mandatory in a system that allowed for choice (as outlined above), for there would be no place for ineffective, unqualified teachers whose only credential was their "tenure." In a world where other professions have grown intensely competitive, and in an industry (education) which fails to measure up either nationally or internationally in terms of the quality of product it turns out, tenure seems to be an archaic custom that has outlived any justification for existence. Good teachers should welcome an end to a system that makes no distinction between the inept and the outstandingly competent. Let the fresh winds of competition blow through the profession, too, providing incentive for improvement and excellence. The children would be the beneficiaries.
IV. Change the certification process, starting with the teachers' colleges themselves and the coursework credentials they mandate. Make knowledge of subject matter and classroom competence greater determinants in who will teach and how they will be rewarded than "education" degrees and courses and mere seniority. Of course, this gets at the heart of another major power center--that is, WHO WILL CONTROL who enters, who stays, and when they leave the profession. In light of recent developments following the Carnegie study and subsequent formation of a national board, the unions can be expected to vehemently oppose any effort to wrest power from their hands in this regard. Here again, however, schools which are forced to compete for their students in a marketplace that includes private schools that hire the most qualified teachers, regardless of their having taken "education" coursework, will need to be free to make choices of personnel who can turn out a superior product, regardless of the opinions of some national board.
V. Do away with uniform salary schedule in public education as a means of attracting and keeping the best qualified teachers in the field and of competing favorably with the private sector. Let the market determine the range of pay just as it does in other industries. It should be remembered that the uniform salary schedule was adopted originally to remedy injustices in pay practices which previously existed between blacks and whites, females and males, rural and urban teachers, etc. As Denis Doyle points out, "it has outlived its usefulness." Current law protects from these discriminatory practices. In the meantime, he says, "we have a salary schedule in which all teachers are paid basically the same, regardless of content, competency, or capacity, and we have shortages in certain areas because we fail to pay market wages." If prospective teachers know that they will receive the same pay and recognition regardless of the difficulty of the subject matter they teach or the market scarcity of their expertise, there is little inducement to go into teaching fields like math and science. On the other hand, if teachers already in the field receive the same pay, regardless of their competency and effectiveness, then there is little incentive for improvement and excellence.
WOULD THE PRINCIPLES OF FREE ENTERPRISE WORK TO IMPROVE EDUCATIONAL QUALITY?
1. Evidence has been accumulated in various communities across the nation to indicate that they may, indeed, be relied upon to provide almost amazing relief from what previously have been failing systems.
2. Massive studies, conducted by both "liberal" and "conservative" think tanks, all reputable organizations (some cited above) have documented the nature of the problems as they now exist, the nature of the rare success stories, and have enabled those organizations to draw what are described as "solid conclusions about what kinds of things bring about better performance in schools and what kinds of things undermine school performance." (Chubb)
3. Chubb says: "...market competition is what leads private schools to decentralize their organization radically to provide autonomy to the schools, which in turn leads schools to develop the kind of healthy organization that they need to succeed." And as for the public system, he says, "That means reorganizing public education on the basis of the principles of competition and choice....It is a practical idea, but more important than that, it is the only idea that will bring about significant and lasting school improvement in this country....The system has to be turned upside down. It has to be governed less from the top and more from the bottom, less by politics and administration, more by markets and choice. The reason I believe that has little to do with my politics....It has everything to do, rather, with research I have been doing at Brookings for the last four or five years with a colleague at Stanford, Terry Moe....In other words...the reason I believe in choice is because I am a social scientist. I have done...more research than I care to think about at this point....The way around (the problem) is to reorganize, based on choice."
4. Jackie DuCote, Exec. V.P., Louisiana Assoc. of Business & Industry, and a veteran of a l5-year unsuccessful battle to improve the quality of education in her state provides the facts and figures to document the dismal track record of legislative initiatives and business expenditures for more than 50 major education reforms in the past l0 years alone. "Despite all this," she says, "the bottom line is that our children really are not learning any better today than they were fifteen years ago. Things might be worse. They certainly are not better." The effort has not lacked for citizen participation, for funding, for legislative action, or for any of a dozen other actions which might be expected to improve education. The education establishment, the bureaucracy, the civil "servants" simply find a way to bog down or not implement change. Teachers' unions sometimes sue. Turf battles develop and change does not occur. DuCote puts her finger squarely on the culprit: "The system is a monopoly. It has a captive clientele. Its funding is guaranteed regardless of results, and parents cannot take their business elsewhere unless they can afford to pay twice for it. Thus parents and citizens and even an organization as powerful as ours have been helpless to bring about any meaningful and lasting change because we do not have the leverage to force the follow through and implementation. The rules of the monopoly are simply stacked against us." A former leader who tried for 35 years to change the system told her: "You are looking at a battered warrior who thought he was on the brink of success a dozen times over the years only to find his near successes get lost somewhere in that gigantic, ever growing bureaucratic sponge that ingests but never digests constructive change."
DuCote offers 5 challenges:
- Look at the bottom line. No system that subordinates the interests of children to those of any other group deserves to be preserved.
- Cut your losses. Stop trying to save dying institutions at the expense of America's future.
- Rethink the definition of public education. Public education does not have to be synonymous with "government schools." Stop thinking of public vs. private schools--think of effective schools and empowering parents to send their children to schools that can and will educate them.
- Stand up and speak out for maximum parental choice...This is not a battle for the faint of heart. Powerful unions and special interests will fight you every step of the way.
- Dare to change the rules of the game. Replace the rules of monopoly with the rules of free enterprise.
5. A primary and compelling reason why recognition of free enterprise principles can result in improvement to educational endeavors remains:
"A hallmark of Western civilization is its educational focus upon the development of the individual's capacity to function as an individual, tempered by recognition of the common characteristics imposed upon all civilized communities by the unchanging aspects of human nature....This educational goal might be described as the quest for 'structured freedom,' freedom for the individual to choose within a framework of values." - Roche
Clearly, a framework for education based on principles which allow individual choice, competition, incentive, and reward governed by just laws is the framework most consistent with this quest. A monopoly system can be seen to be a contradiction in terms.
WHAT, THEN, ARE THE ROADBLOCKS TO BE OVERCOME ON THIS PATHWAY TO EXCELLENCE?
1. Unions and their power.
Real agendas must be exposed, and truly professional associations must be strengthened and encouraged. If the majority of professional educators whose views do not coincide with the political agenda of the unions make themselves heard, their power base will be diluted. In the meantime, right-to-work laws must be preserved and brush fires must be fought as they occur. Rhetoric must be examined carefully to see that real choice is not compromised and coopted by their clever means.
2. Entrenched bureaucracies and vested special interests.
The business community is the only segment of society possessing the power, the communications ability, and the money to mobilize the total community to action to overcome the combined power of the special interests and the entrenched bureaucracies. Therefore: the business community must not allow itself to be "coopted" by the education establishment into any partnerships which dilute its effectiveness or which call upon it to be the "cash cow" to extend the life of an already failing monopoly system.
This has been its customary role, and only recently has the business community begun to say "No more!"--as happened recently when participants in the Boston Compact withdrew after pouring several millions of dollars into a "major" reform effort that not only was not improving the situation, but where the results were actually worsening. If business is to be enlisted in the fight to reform education, it must exercise its freedom to demand accountability and choice. "We are not prepared," said Ferdinand Colloredo-Mansfield, chairman of the Boston Private Industry Council, "to endorse the expenditure of another $l00 million over the next 4 years..."---thus calling a halt to the Compact. In Chicago, too, the business community has joined with others to demand real reforms that attack systemic failures. But the Fall l988 meeting of the Business Council provided the best example, according to former Assistant Secretary of Education and professor of education and public policy at Vanderbilt University Chester Finn, of how business people "go squishy" when they venture into the land of education. Finn laments that the Business Council's choice of experts to appear before its Homestead meeting were teacher-union chief Albert Shanker and establishment leader Ernest Boyer.
3. High-sounding reforms, such as "site-based management" and "teacher empowerment" which semantically deceive the public into believing real reform is being advocated, when, in fact, poor performance is merely being used to justify bigger budgets. Again, words must be dissected carefully to be sure that hidden agendas are not being pursued. True reform is too important to the nation's future to be bogged down in semantic deceptions.
4. Overcoming what are perceived to be the "mindsets" of persons labeled as "conservative," "liberal," "underprivileged," "minorities," "poor," etc., etc., and translating ideas into actions.
Robert Woodson, President of Nat'l. Ctr. for Neighborhood Enterprise, former member of the Council for Black Economic Agenda, and editor of An Agenda for Black Progress, states that 55 to 60 percent of minority respondents favor some form of voucher or tax credit, but he acknowledges that minorities and underprivileged people are not influenced by research studies, they are influenced by perceptions--by successes they observe, by what works. He relatess how the Center has found 400 independent neighborhood schools where the disaffected public school teachers have joined with low-income parents in establishing their own independent schools that vary in size from 25 to 400. Operating on budgets 40% less than public school budgets, they are graduating kids 2 years ahead of grade, in some cases using the same public school textbooks that were used unsuccessfully in the public system.
Woodson sees the possibility of forming strategic alliances between such groups and business and other groups who are accustomed to being driven by what works--not by some ideal of what might be. He points out that poor people know what doesn't work, stating that of the trillion dollars spent on programs for the poor in the last 20 years, 70% of that trillion has gone to the "poverty Pentagon"--those who draw high salaries to "serve" the poor. As they see "choice" schools successfully graduating their kids, they know that vouchers might improve educational opportunity and reduce the "education Pentagon" that ingests dollars without producing quality.
The "liberal" Brookings Institution, the "conservative" Heritage Foundation, along with scores of other organizations dedicated to restoring American education to a position of leadership internationally are committed to a marketplace approach to education.
5. Propaganda claiming that choice would give rise to "inferior" schools, that changes in certification would result in a flood of "unqualified" teachers, that the well-to-do would be the primary beneficiaries a consumer-oriented system, that competition among teachers for salary recognition would be bad for education, and on and on.
These and other charges can be refuted by the evidence already in from those effective choice systems already in existence.
6. Claims that changing to a choice system would be a wasteful use of buildings already in existence, or that it would require exorbitant capital expenditures.
John Chubb says, "...there is very little evidence that it is more efficient to have a large, comprehensive high school than 4 or 5 smaller schools that are not comprehensive at all but are specialized. In fact, there is every reason to believe that smaller, specialized schools that match the service provided to the needs and motivations of the kids will work better than a large, comprehensive high school...One way that the physical obstacles to multiplying schools are often overcome is by getting beyond the idea that one school is one building and setting up what are often called schools within a school...it is possible for different wings or different floors to become different schools. Just as...office buildings around town have lots of different businesses, so can school buildings house different schools." He continues, "For the choice system to work, the supply has to be capable of change. You have to have the possibility of those schools that are not attractive to anybody being closed down and reopened under new leadership, reopened with new teachers."
In other words, choice would bring innovation and change. Less desirable facilities, principals, and teachers would tend to eventually come together in the same school, and then opportunity is provided to fight mediocrity in the system by making decisions about whether to keep schools open or not, and whether to keep certain people on the payroll at all.
Look, we know you pay taxes, and we know that your taxes are so high in some cases that you can't afford private school or homeschool for your kids. And we know that all children deserve a decent education in a safe environment. But the unions have the public schools bound up and held hostage.
So, this is what we plan to do about it (insert voucher program here). We don't plan to rest until this is done. Your child deserves the same education as the President's children, or the union boss making half a million a year.
The President, the Democrats, and the unions, as typified by this guy, want you to know that they could care less (play clip of jerk saying "Life is tough" over and over and over and over).
We want you to know that we have a better way.
This, of course, will never ever happen.
Life isn’t fair, but being able to choose a better school for your children makes it more fair.
Any mob connections by little Vinnie? Wouldn’t be surprised. It’s New Jersey, you know.
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Any mob connections by little Vinnie? Wouldn’t be surprised. It’s New Jersey, you know.
This, of course, will never ever happen.
Rick Santorum's family learns wherever they go, together.
This shows how Democrats compassion for the masses is a big act.
One of my peeves against GWB was he abandoned private school vouchers in NCLB to get it passed through the Senate with the Teacher's union (NEA) and Ted Kennedy's approval, then Dems bitched about it anyway. He just wanted to get credit for passing anything called EDUCATION before the 2004 election.
I think the Federal government should not be in the public school business at all, but that is not going to happen ever. Sorry libertarians. So the GOP should be fighting for vouchers rather than solely funding liberal indoctrination centers.
Teachers’ unions are the core of the Democrat Party; they own it (forcing the party to defend the indefensible, openly oppressing the downtrodden, etc.). When a lower birthrate suggested maybe we didn’t need so many teachers, they simply imported more (actual results be damned).
NJ teachers’ unions are the primary reason Americans and the companies that hire them are leaving NJ; Governor Christie was elected to staunch the bleeding.
“Teachers unions are the core of the Democrat Party; they own it”
That’s largely true, along with militant secularists, government aid recipients, and ethnic identity demagogues.
Nobody gets as much from the party as the teachers’ unions; welfare was reformed, affirmative action has been successfully challenged in some courts, but the teachers’ unions keep getting more & more money. The Dems don’t control the unions or cater to them; they are the political arm of the teachers’ unions.
What I mean by “This, of course, will never ever happen”, is that Republicans will never make it a priority to push vouchers, or to put everything behind an effort to get a national voucher program.
They vote for No Child Left Behind, which federalizes the public school system, then refuse to do anything for those who don’t want to be stuck in the (now) lousy federal public system.
Thanks sickoflibs. Union bosses don’t represent the interests of the rank and file, they represent the interests of themselves and their party bosses among the Demwits.
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