If knowledge is power and ignorance is bliss, United Teachers Los Angeles union head A.J. Duffy has clearly sided with the know-nothings — something that goes a long way towards explaining the failure of LAUSD over the last three decades.
The LA Times has broken through LAUSD’s own commitment to ignorance and provided parents, teachers, students and the general public into how how thousands of students perform on standardized tests over a seven-year period.
It was a long and complex undertaking — one that has long been sought by many education reformers and could have been done by LAUSD a long time ago if anyone in the failed school system actually wanted to know which teachers improved student test scores and which made them worse.
With the data in hand, the highly paid administrators could have gone back and analyzed what is working and what isn’t, why some teachers who are beloved by parents and students consistently have awful outcomes, whether high scores are achieved by teaching to test or by actually helping kids learn English and math.
It would have been revolutionary and still could be if parents use the Times information — to be published online in a searchable database in the next two weeks — to demand that the same analysis be conducted system-wide and followed up with in-depth research.
Of course, knowledge of which teachers are good and which are could lead to accountability. Intelligent programs could be designed to help low-performing teachers get better and could lead to their firing if they failed to improve.
Better skills teachers and improved outcomes for students is anathema to Duffy and other union leaders, always has been, always will.
It’s why the union has fought all real reform and protected incompetence. It’s why public support for public education has waned.
Teachers are trained professionals and need to act like they are and demand to be treated as such. They are like journalists and other white-collar professionals and not accept the one-size-fits-all leveling mentality that makes sense for assembly line workers.
Excellence should be rewarded with six-figure salaries and failure in the classroom should lead to retraining and other measures up to dismissal.
Quality education should be the goal, not mediocrity and failure.
Duffy’s answer to the Times’ revelations is to call on unionists everywhere to boycott the newspaper.
When Larry Mantle asked him on KPCC today over and over to say what was wrong with knowing how teachers’ students performed on standardized tests, Duffy dissembled and evaded, unable to offer a straight answer.
He blamed everyone in the world, attacked the tests and, as usual, defended failure. It’s time teachers — the vast majority of whom are dedicated and capable — to take control of their union and stand up for what’s right for the kids and for themselves.