“When school children start paying dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schools children”

While pandering to unionized teachers, Slade Mead suggested that… O.K., let me start this again. While speaking before members of the Tucson Education Association, Slade Mead proposed increasing teacher’s salaries, and dismantling the AIMS test.

Well, he did not use the term “dismantling”, but the message was clear – he’s on the side of accountability avoidance. Specifically, he proposed that passing the test no longer be the whole enchilada regarding high school graduation, but only sixty per cent; the other forty per cent coming from course work.

The purpose of the AIMS test is to measure the effectiveness of the course work. How can you substitute the test with that which the test is supposed to measure? Of course, you can’t; but the idea is to get rid of the test because it could hold teachers accountable. Remember his audience: the Tucson Education Association (TEA), a chapter of the National Education Association (NEA), a labor union representing teachers.

All the unions that represent teachers make noise about “rigorous standards” and “accountability”, but they fight those things tooth and nail. Their interests lie with the payers of dues, namely the teachers. As Albert Shanker said when he was president of the American Federation of Teachers, “When school children start paying dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schools children”. Good honesty there Mr. Shanker!

Slade Mead is running against Tom Horne (didn’t Steve McQueen play him in a movie?) for superintendent of public instruction.

Mr. Horne supports the AIMS test as a graduation requirement, and suggests that it also serves as a motivator for students and teachers.

2 thoughts on ““When school children start paying dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schools children”

  1. As a charter member of the horrified-at-how-uneducated-our-high-school-graduates-are club, I believe some sort of rigid and rigorous standard is needed to insure a minimum level of performance from both our schools and students.

    However . . . I have talked with numerous teachers who all say the same thing: that their teaching has become nothing more than tutoring to pass The Test. I remember studying subjects I didn’t really care to learn; my technique for passing those classes was entirely different than when the material interested me. Mere rote memorization might get these students through the AIMS test, but I seriously doubt they will gain any critical thinking ability. I don’t claim to have a cure, but a one-size-fits-all nationwide test strikes me as a good way to produce semi-literate dullards. Okay, better than illiterate dullards, but . . .

  2. Alpha J,

    I certainly agree that the national government should stay out of the education business…frankly, I think that all government should stay out of the education business – but that is another argument.

    We agree that there is a problem with academic achievement. We also agree that a “rigid and rigorous standard” should be set. Any solution will involve measurements of some kind. Student testing is the most direct way to measure compliance.

    The “teach to the test” argument with which teachers universally respond (as you pointed out) is pathetic. Another way of stating it is, “If you think I suck now, wait til you measure my performance,” or, “If you set a goal, I’ll be too constrained to teach.” As forms of measurement go, this sort of teasting is rather benign; it really says, “Teach in any sort of wonderful, creative, teacher way that you want, all we ask is that the kids end up knowing the three R’s.” Would the teachers prefer monitors who observe their day to day activities? If teachers are compelled to “teach to the test”, it is not by the fact of the test.

    Schools used to be funded at the municipal level, and parents ultimately called the shots. Now they are funded at the state level, and parents are often told to go pound sand. These changes occurred concommitant to the declining academic achievement.

    Ultimately, responsibility for the education of children should return to the parents. In the mean time, measuring school performance (student testing), combined with competition (vouchers), will save some of the children in the system today.


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