Can it be – a teachers’ union actually spending money to improve the state of the art of teaching? Wow!
USA Today reports that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is going to spend $1 million to help school systems try things that their members have found actually work elsewhere – even including charter schools and merit pay! Wow!
We have to salute the AFT for stepping up to the plate to work like a real organization of professionals interested in improving the state of the profession rather than just limited scope, 1950’s industrial wage and benefits bargaining operations.
Actually, I know from personal experience that the AFT has a history in this area. Back when accountability testing was getting started in the early 1990s, this teacher organization put out a neat collection of some of the best test standards and questions that they had collected from around the world. It was called the “Setting World Class Standards” package, and mine still resides on my reference shelf.
Unfortunately, based on what happened to Kentucky’s assessment program, I doubt anyone in Frankfort ever saw the AFT’s standards gem. That’s because Kentucky is overrun by the “other” teachers’ union, a crowd that does seem rather firmly entrenched in that 1950s wage and benefits bargaining mindset.
For now, it looks like the AFT has the lock on how to conduct itself as a real organization of and for professionals. Maybe Kentucky’s teachers should look into this, and maybe they should be taking a vote to move to the AFT so they can enjoy the benefits and satisfaction of a real professional association, too.