To the Editor:
Paul J. Phillips, the president of the Quincy (Mass.) Education Association, writes in his Feb. 28, 2007, letter to the editor that reformers he calls “anti-unionists” are against the interests of teachers. He has it backwards.
An improved education system—what reformers are working toward—supports the outstanding teachers who struggle to achieve success amid the rigors and roadblocks of the current underperforming and monopolistic system.
In Mr. Phillips’ view, reformers paint a picture of teachers’ unions’ efforts for change that is limited solely to measures that feed their self-interest, such as the move for smaller class sizes. What he might consider instead is the need to put more money on what incontrovertible evidence proves to be effective in better educating children: high-performing teachers in every classroom.
We need to attract and retain the best teachers possible. A change in the archaic salary chart and tenure system would go a long way toward both finding and keeping these teachers. Instead of rewarding teachers who have merely “stuck it out,” why not financially reward those who have made verifiable accomplishments in their students’ education? This provides incentives to achieve, and also is a great recruiting tool to encourage the best and brightest college students to consider a career in teaching.
Mr. Phillips says that educators “should not take the easy way.” We agree. It is time to look at education in a whole new light. If that light shows that the existing system is not working, we should take the more difficult route of approaching problems in new and innovative ways, with greater concentration on the interests of children than on the archaic structure that now surrounds them at school.
Steven R. Maggi
Education Reform Center
Evergreen Freedom Foundation
A version of this article appeared in the March 28, 2007 edition of Education Week as True School Reform Is Not Against Teacher Interests