Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Free Choice and Education in Baltimore ...Teachers Unions and Politicans Team Up to Make Sure the Kids Don't Have a Chance to Succeed

The so-called blue states have big cities that are usually governed by a cozy partnership of Democratic officials and their co-managers, public sector union leaders.

As a result of this joined-at-the-hip relationship, too many American cities have lots of very big problems, including financial and educational. Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Washington, D.C. and several California cities immediately come to mind. See Chicago's Mayor Faces Fresh Hurdles for an overview of the critical financial issues facing that city and its citizens.

But today let's zero in on what's happening in Baltimore and its schools. As we said in yesterday's post, education and jobs are very much in need of a lasting solution if the poverty stricken areas of America are ever going to improve. What we're doing and have done for far too long is insane.

Bad Deal in Baltimore is subtitled 'Progressives and unions gut a charter-school reform:'

"The Baltimore riots produced national lamentations about urban poverty, but don’t expect much to be done about it. Witness how the Maryland legislature gutted a charter-school reform that could have offered an escape for poor children.

Baltimore schools are some of the worst in the country. According to the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress, a mere 14% of Baltimore fourth graders and 16% of eighth graders were proficient in reading. One in four students fails to graduate from high school. This is a disgrace.

Many states have used charter schools as an alternative to let educators operate without the rules that favor teacher tenure and other protections over student learning in failing schools. But Maryland’s chartering law is one of the stingiest. It makes local school boards the sole chartering authority, and they see charters as competition. The state also limits the freedom of charter schools to innovate and demand high performance. . . .

The tragedy is that last week Governor Larry Hogan signed a bill that leaves the city’s relatively few charter schools under the sway of the teachers unions. The new Governor’s original plan would have allowed charters to operate outside union collective-bargaining agreements, given charter operators greater autonomy over staffing and improved the state’s funding formula.

Those goals died at the hands of Democrats who dominate the state legislature, in particular state senator and former teachers union member Paul Pinsky. One of the first reforms killed was a measure to give charters the choice of participating in a collective-bargaining agreement. So charters must continue to answer to unions for work rules, tenure, even pay. . . .

Meanwhile, the Center for Education Reform notes that the law takes away much of the State Board of Education’s power to review local school-district actions on charters and makes it harder for the Governor to shape policy through appointments to the board. Under the new law, no plan for a charter school “may be construed to take precedence over an agreement of a local bargaining unit in a local school system.”

All of this reflects the power that government unions have over Democrats in Maryland, one of the country’s most left-leaning states. It also reveals the disconnect between the left’s rhetoric on poverty and its refusal to change the policies and practices that destroy economic opportunity. Look for another generation of education failure in Baltimore, and more riots down the road."

Summing Up

America is all about the exercise of personal freedoms and individual choice --- except when it isn't.

In our nation's biggest cities, public sector union officials and their joined-at-the-hip Democratic political allies are in charge of public education. But it wasn't always that way.

In fact, Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937 said the following about public sector unions, "The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service." He was right about that.

So here's the question du jour --- Are politicians elected to serve all the people, including our children and their parents, or just those who align with public sector unions?

When are we going to collectively demonstrate seriousness of purpose with respect to the enormous financial and educational problems of our biggest cities and America as a whole?

I wonder about how much harm our politics is doing the future opportunities for our children. What's going on today is simply not fair.

That's my take.

Thanks. Bob.

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