To the Editor:
It seems that Jane Owen, the author of the Commentary “Finding Our Voice” (April 4, 2007), hadn’t read A Nation at Risk, published just four years earlier, when she became a teacher 20 years ago. That report was a call to arms to challenge an education system that was drowning the United States in a sea of mediocrity.
But as the dismal statistics continue to show, year after year, nothing has changed. That is not because the teaching profession has lost its voice, but because it speaks exclusively through its unions. As Steve Jobs, the chief executive officer of Apple Inc., recently said, “I believe that what is wrong with our schools in this nation is that they have become unionized in the worst possible way.”
Interesting that Ms. Owen finds her voice only to rail against high-stakes testing, asking whether “any of us really believe that the current accountability system’s stranglehold on education is best for kids.” It certainly is not best for teachers, whose responsibility for the job of teaching our children is finally being examined. What other profession gets away with such long-term shoddy performance? Only in a monopoly that has a stranglehold on the way education is delivered is such a lack of accountability possible.
The old chestnut about blaming the victim (in this case, the baggage that many youngsters bring with them into the classroom) has been debunked by the incredible successes of public charter schools like those in the Knowledge Is Power Program and other inner-city schools that have accomplished seeming miracles. Has the teaching profession eagerly looked into how these miracles happen and done everything possible to replicate them? On the contrary, the teachers’ unions are waging a war to the death against public charter schools.
So who is doing what’s best for the kids?
San Francisco, Calif.
A version of this article appeared in the April 25, 2007 edition of Education Week as Teachers Should Find a Voice Beyond Unions’