Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

What They Are Really Thinking

The recent kerfuffle over the Los Angeles Times releasing scads of data on LA’s teachers has provided some interesting insights into how defenders of teachers unions think. The head of the LA teachers union, for example, said he was “outraged” that the Times would publish data revealing which teachers were effective and which teachers weren’t making the grade. The head of the American Federation of Teachers, meanwhile, said she was “disturbed” that teachers might now be held accountable by the public at large.

The Times has now released the entire database, and reactions from teachers have been mixed. Though a few thanked the Times for revealing that they needed improvement, others dug in their heels. “Guilty as charged,” wrote Elizabeth Ellen Snyder, one of the teachers who was evaluated. “I am proud to be ‘less effective’ than some of my peers because I chose to teach to the emotional and academic needs of my students.”

This comment is, at best, ludicrous, and, at worst, an indicative insight into the mindset of bad teachers and the unions that protect them who think they are above being judged based on their performance. It’s possible that Ms. Snyder has been unfairly maligned, but if she were truly teaching to the academic needs of your students, she wouldn’t have been rated poorly. Second of all, while her commitment to the emotional well-being of your charges is admirable, she shouldn’t use it as a crutch to explain your poor performance. Finally, why couldn’t she follow the footsteps of your fellow teachers who said that their ranking showed they “have more room for improvement,” as Monica L. Petit did?

It’s easy to see why teachers unions are fighting tooth and nail against the implementation of value-added analyses; they don’t want to show how many of their members are as stubborn as Ms. Snyder. But don’t the parents of our children deserve to know the quality of education their kids are receiving?

Categories: Center for Union FactsTeachers Unions