Thursday, September 23, 2010

More Failing Grades for Minnesota's Rep. John Kline

 Rep. John Kline (R-MN-02) is the lead Republican on the Education Committee in Congress. And while, he talks of reform for education system, what he has done is offered up unproven mandates in the way of teacher merits raises, increasing charter schools, under funded student loans, and attempts to dismantle the teachers unions.
Through his Education Committee position, Kline has promoted the belief that teachers aren't doing their jobs well. He's even gone so far as to introduced a bill that would establish a 'Teacher Incentive Fund', seed money if you will, for states and schools to reward teachers for improving student academic achievement.

In Kline's own words he wants to:
"break the tenure stranglehold that the teachers unions have had all across the country. ... We [Secretary Duncan ] both agree that we need some way to remove the bad teachers and reward the good teachers."
Like John Kline's other educational suggestions,  it's smoke and mirrors but not much in the way of substance and facts. Kline has called publically to decrease spending for unproven educational mandate from the government.  But he must be making exceptions if they fall into his ideology of more charter schools, busting teacher unions, or establishing teacher merit pay.
"Challenging economic times are not the time for new and expensive experiments that siphon funds from existing programs and impose massive, unfunded mandates on state and local school officials"
Kline would have you believe that instead of fully funding schools, effectiveness and accountability of teachers is the corner stone to your children's eduction. Part of that equation is advocating against teacher unions while promoting merit pay. However a thorough study came out this week with the research to completely debunk his notion.  Education Week published a story Tuesday headlined “Merit Pay Found to Have Little Effect on Achievement.”

Vanderbilt University’s National Center on Performance Issues conducted the teacher compensation study.  Researchers followed nearly 300 middle school mathematics teachers in Nashville, Tenn. to evaluate the hypothesis.  On average, students taught by teachers taking part in the program did not make larger academic gains than those taught by teachers in the normal wage group.

Merit pay doesn't work but now we have the research and facts to back up the claim. Most teachers would like and are entitled to more pay for the important responsibility of education our children. In Minnesota on average teachers make $45,000 a year, so obviously they didn't get into teaching for the pay! Kline's Bill implies that more money would make teachers better performers which would mean they aren't performing. We now know Kline's reasoning is faulty.

It's time that Rep. Kline put to rest his claim of  'teacher merit/incentive pay' and advocate for fully funding education. I applaud his work for special education and urge him to apply that same commitment to all our children's educational needs not just the ones that fall outside of his far right ideology.

1 comment:

Minnesota Central said...

There are good teachers and poorly performing teachers … there are good schools and there are poor performing schools … there are good charter schools and there are poor performing charter schools.

As US NEWS reported, a study, conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, determined that by a 2-to-1 margin of bad charters to good charters.
Further, only 17 percent of charter schools have growth in math scores that exceeds that of their traditional public-school equivalents by a significant amount while 37 percent of charter schools posted math gains that were significantly below what students would have seen if they had enrolled in local traditional public schools.
On the positive side, the study found that students living in poverty and English-language learners outperformed their public-school peers in both reading and math … doesn’t that say that the problem is that resources are not properly given to those that need it most ?

Finland is regarded as the leader in education results (based on PISA) … and I believe that most if not all teachers are unionized … so doesn’t that say that unions are not necessarily the problem, but instead more so the involvement, support and education level of the parents ?

Instead of blaming teachers, don’t parents need to step up and become more involved ? Maybe it’s time to look ourselves in the face and admit that there are good and involved parents and there are parents that are performing poorly.

I am not a believer in charter schools as they just divert monies to confound the problem … it makes me wonder if the charter schools that are performing better also have parents that are better educated and involved.

Mr. Kline’s problem is that he does not believe that the Federal Government should be setting national standards ( instead let each state establish their own rules) … if that’s the case, then he should not be advocating for charter schools (as each state would then determine if they want charter schools or not.) I would be very interested in hearing from Mr. Kline what he has done to improve education during his time in Congress.