It’s doubtful that two state education chiefs wrote the recent Washington Post column which claimed that teacher unions were “sacrificing higher standards to avoid accountability.”What’s more of a political hit piece was most likely crafted by the hacks at Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education. The two ed chiefs – New Mexico’s Hanna Skandera and Tennessee’s Kevin Huffman are both among Bush’s Chiefs for Change. Huffman, a Teach for America alum, is Michelle Rhee’s ex-husband. Using cherry-picked data to justify their test-dominated vision, they misrepresent teacher unions position:
Astonishingly, the unions seem to think that they can ask for more taxpayer money while simultaneously weakening measurement and accountability. This is the very course of action that has led the United States to its middling level of performance on international benchmarks.
Not sure how teacher unions can actually ask state legislatures for more money for anything. The infrastructure their accountability schemes cost takes money away from actual instruction. Never mind the rising cost of energy an simple maintenance of facilities. This is a silly partisan assertion beneath a state education chief.
Skanandera and Huffman know that “international benchmarks” are really just test scores and much more nuanced than that. More evidence that the piece was written by a political operative. Moreover, the United States actually tests all of its students.
And the Bushies are engaging in a little rewrite of history, too, if “weakening measurement and accountability has led to our “middling level of performance on international benchmarks.” No Child Left Behind, which ushered in test-based accountability, is now 12 years old. Bush’s test-dominated school grade formula in Florida is just as old. Subjected to yearly tweaks, it no longer has credibility with Floridians. No, the Bush Way has already taken its toll on two generations of children.
In opening their piece with “you can always count on the national teachers unions to behave badly at their annual conventions,” Bush’s mouthpieces signaled their intention. They need to create a union bogeyman for political purposes.
Instead of cultivating fear by spreading misinformation and arguing for less and less accountability, union leaders and their supporters should honor their commitments to our children and parents. They should honor their commitments to employers who rely on our education system to prepare young people to compete in the global economy. They should honor their commitments to civil rights leaders and advocates for the disabled who have fought for decades for greater equity in education, and to parents, who have the right to know how their children are performing.
U.S. teachers and students are ready. They are proving it every day. It’s time to stop attacking higher standards and accountability and focus on helping our children reach their potential.
With Jeb Bush’s signature education innovation, Common Core Standards collapsing faster than an old baseball stadium even within his own party, he’s desperate to make his failing policies about someone else. Parents of both political parties are sick of his high-stakes testing schemes, too, and no longer buy into his side’s narrow “accountability” memes.