Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Full-Page Ad Targets Potential Biden Education Secretary

Former president of the National Education Association (NEA) Lily Eskelsen Garcia is reportedly in the running to be president-elect Joe Biden’s Education Secretary. But Eskelsen Garcia has a history of prioritizing teacher union interests over students — a track record the Center for Union Facts (CUF) will highlight tomorrow in a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal. 

Eskelsen Garcia is known for vehemently opposing credible education reforms. Under her leadership, her union even sued to get rid of teachers’ evaluations. As the ad states, she’s attacked certain performance assessments as “the mark of the devil,” and likened some school reformers to zombies that are “eating our childrens’ brains.”

Her attacks on efforts to partially gauge teachers’ performance on test scores have demonized student improvement reforms. Claims that using test scores as a metric for success mean that teachers must “hit [their] number or…get punished” are unfounded. In fact, for teachers whose test scores are available for review, these scores have rarely accounted for more than half of their evaluation. In 2019, 41 states required “more than two rating categories in their evaluation systems,” and 37 states “required all or some of their teachers to be evaluated multiple times.” One study reported that even after assessment reforms were made, less than one percent of evaluated teachers were found to be “unsatisfactory.”

Eskelsen Garcia has also made her stance on charter schools clear, calling them “very misguided.” But multiple studies have shown charter schools “provide substantial academic benefits” to the students that attend them.

Eskelsen Garcia’s efforts to diminish competition and accountability in our education do more to promote teachers unions’ selfish interests than help students. A former union boss who opposes credible school reforms shouldn’t be in charge of the future of education.

Categories: NEA