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Reforming the Educators

Lamenting the condition of American public schools, Nicholas Kristof offers some suggested reforms:

A study by the Hamilton Project, a public policy group at the Brookings Institution, outlines several steps to boost weak schools: end rigid requirements for teacher certification that impede hiring, make tenure more difficult to get so that ineffective teachers can be weeded out after three years on the job and award hefty bonuses to good teachers willing to teach in low-income areas.

It’s heartening to see Kristof supporting the sorts of common-sense education reforms that COMMENTARY contributor Chester Finn has been championing for at least 25 years. Kristof, however, does not venture to mention the obvious opponent to these reforms: immensely powerful teachers unions. It is simply not in the interests of their members to face competition from uncertified teachers, to have less job security, and to be paid for performance.

And, needless to say, Kristof also does not indicate which political party (I’ll give you a hint: its name starts with a “D”) has long been beholden to those unions. There are signs of hope, however, that Democrats are beginning to put the interests of children ahead of teachers trying to protect the their labor monopoly. Obama himself was booed last July at a meeting of the National Education Association. Why? He dared to say that he saw promise in “performance pay” for teachers.


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