A recent New York Times editorial points out that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is working hard to distance itself from the National Education Association (NEA) on a very key education issue.
The Times says the AFT – a teachers’ union with virtually no presence in Kentucky – has proposed teacher, “evaluation systems that take student achievement into account but also expressed support for ‘a fair, transparent and expedient process to identify and deal with ineffective teachers.’”
This new policy at the AFT is a definite change in attitude, and it didn’t happen on its own.
The AFT is responding to pressure from national leaders and leaders in states where the AFT has a presence. Those leaders recognize that education in the United States isn’t improving fast enough to meet international competition; it isn’t meeting the needs of all children, either, and some of the problems rest with ineffective teachers.
We have the same educational challenges in Kentucky, but there seems to be little recognition here that we also need to get more aggressive on many education fronts that include holding our educators and teachers more responsible and accountable.
In fact, the teachers union in Kentucky says it isn’t even hearing about the sorts of issues that the Times just wrote about.
During the January 18, 2010 Kentucky Tonight show on KET the guest panel discussed some of the education challenges in Kentucky and how bureaucratic rules stand in the way of real reforms. As part of this exchange, at around 17 and a half minutes into the show, the head of the Kentucky Education Association said,
“I’ve never once heard exactly what it is that’s the problem. And, if there are things that are such a problem in the public schools – that are holding students back – then why don’t we have legislators proposing legislation to change those?”
Actually, that is a good question.
Why aren’t our education leaders proposing real changes of the sort that the AFT is obviously talking about with leaders in other states? Why doesn’t Kentucky’s primary teachers’ union even know there are such issues let alone have a plan under consideration to solve those problems?