Newt Slams Detroit Pubilc Schools

by Ryan on July 31, 2007

in Politics

On Newt Gingrich’s latest appearance on Fox News Sunday, the former House Speaker spoke about fundamental systemic change as a way to tackle and solve the many problems facing our government.  One point he made was about our failed public schools not being able to compete with private schools since we don’t give charter schools or vouchers a chance to work.  He blames unions primarily.  To illustrate an example of a failed school system, Newt cited Detroit’s horrible graduation rate and minority unemployment, among other things.

Thankfully, the Detroit Federation of Teachers responded:  “leave us alone.”  Talk about a 48% graduation rate with only 22% of incoming freshmen graduating on time and the mighty teacher union has nothing more to say than butt-out.  Classic.  They said nothing about why the graduation rate is so low, or why student performance is so bad, or about what they are doing to help.  Nothing, except the typical liberal “stop being so mean” attitude, that unfortunately recognizes but does not solve any problems.

I belong to a weak and pitiful teachers union and was even elected to a representative post in my building along with ten others last year.  At the districtwide meetings I learned an important lesson about unions:  they assume all their teachers are awesome (no teacher would ever get complacent, “retire into the profession”, be a coach who happens to teach during the day, or keep their job for lipstick money) , making actual student performance a secondary issue next to the “greedy” parents who don’t want to have their property taxes raised for the good of the union. 

In essence, I noticed that they care less about the kid’s issues and more about the union itself.  The meetings were more about sticking to mindless parliamentary procedure and little pet projects the latest union stooge was suckered into, than to substantive issues about giving the Board and parents a reason to hike our benefits and pay through improving student performance.  We have a great school district with superb results, so why aren’t we the teachers getting paid for our results?  We’re nearly mid-range salary in our county, with far better AP passage rates and graduation rates than nearly all the public schools in the county. 

I ran for the representative position because we were having contract disputes and my colleagues drafted me because they thought I could help.  Not very surprisingly, the union lied straight faced to all its members when it inferred that the Board had broken off negotiations late in the game, when it was the union that actually did it!  All the while, they stirred every members like we were pawns in the union’s petty games.  I did not run again for next year, being completely disgusted with my union.  So I am not shocked that the DFT decided to pick on the messenger and not the message:  typical m.o. for unions.  Alas, Newt’s point is made quite poignantly.

ps–I think the old Russian word for a worker’s union/council was… hmm… ah yes, “soviet!”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rightonoz July 31, 2007 at 6:25 pm

Know how you feel on this one.

Down here the federal govt (Liberal/National – equiv of Republican) tried to get some serious work done on education reform with funding tied to performance and a requirement for teacher performance reviews, and for the first time, the ability to pay for performance and sack incompetent teachers. The Labor state governments with their left wing union stooges blocked every attempt.

Result, incompetent teachers can’t be sacked and earn as much as teachers who make a real effort to perform and have a positive influence on their students. No wonder all the best are leaving for the private schools.

Also no wonder our literacy and maths skills are on the decline – educate everyone to the lowest common denominator.

I know you must have been severely disillusioned, however any union is only ever going to work as a positive if people such as yourself continue to fight against the established goons, but then your chances of success were probably less than zero.

You’re totally right on the “Soviet” analogy.

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Rightonoz July 31, 2007 at 6:29 pm

Just a thought Private and Christian schools in our region are crying out for good teachers. The weather is perfect all year – swim 8-9 months of the year, the people are friendly, the beaches clean, and we speak proper English……..

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