While Arthur E. Wise’s call for state legislatures to create teaching-standards boards “to guard the consumer against incompetent performers” (“States Must Create Teaching-Standards Boards,” Commentary, Jan. 11, 1989) is in keeping with the nation’s demand for educational excellence, his perception of how that should be done is dangerously naive.
Naming the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers (afl-cio) as the “leaders” of this movement, he asks, ''Who could object to the professional community’s developing and enforcing meaningful standards for entry to teaching--to maintaining quality control over teaching personnel?”
What a non sequitur!
The nea and the aft are not the guardians of “the professional community,” and their officials do not represent the dedicated educators who place children first.
Until legislators and the education establishment recognize that, the battle for excellence will never be won.
There is no evidence that nea and aft officials give one whit for “competence” as a standard for accreditation, licensure, certification, or permission to teach. But there is enormous evidence that adherence to the union line is the “standard” to be imposed.
The oft-lauded “peer review” programs in Ohio, New York, and Indiana promoted by the aft stipulate that only union members be peer evaluators. And the nea’s highly touted “mentor teaching” program in California systematically rejects competent teachers who are not union members.
Should we have state boards to set and enforce meaningful standards for entry into teaching? Certainly. Licensure regulations to define and enforce competence? Of course.
But union-dominated, autonomous bureaus of teacher education and accreditation acting like hiring halls for card-carrying union members? No.
Some teachers are “more equal” than others, despite union officials’ attempt to lockstep them. Let us select them for their knowledge, their skills, and their accomplishments--not for their union allegiance.
Jo Seker Director, Concerned Educators Against Forced Unionism Springfield, Va.
A version of this article appeared in the February 01, 1989 edition of Education Week as Letters to the Editor