Reformers plant flag in the yard of nation’s most militant union

Mar 21, 2013 by

OAKLAND, Calif. – Education reform advocates are taking their students-first message directly into the backyard of the Oakland Education Association, the most left-wing, militant teachers union in the nation – bar none.

At the request of a coalition of local parent and youth groups and other community organizations, the National Council on Teacher Quality is offering a series of policy proposals designed to improve teacher performance and student learning in the Oakland Unified School District, reports

NCTQ’s report will be released later today, but OEA President Trish Gorham has already dismissed it as an “over the top” advocacy piece.

The report is expected to call for ending the district’s current practice of automatically awarding teacher tenure after an educator’s second year in the classroom, reports.

NCTQ analysts will also recommend that teachers be evaluated annually – instead of every two years, as they are now – and that teacher performance should become a consideration during periods of layoffs.

“Just like other cities we’ve studied, Oakland needs to find ways to consider the best interest of students when deciding where to assign its teachers and also work to enact more meaningful evaluation systems that help all teachers – those who are great, those who are average and those who are weak – improve their craft,” Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, told the news site.

The group will also recommend a pay increase for Oakland educators, coupled with a reduction in the high number of sick and personal days they are given. The district’s generous leave policies contribute to wasteful spending and unproductive instruction days for student, according to NCTQ analysts.

Oakland district spokesman Troy Flint praised the report for making some “excellent points,” but seemed to caution parents, students and taxpayers that it probably won’t lead to significant change.

“The political climate here is very different than other places (NCTQ has) operated,” Flint told the news site.

Unfortunately, Flint is right.

Oakland district leaders have been locked in a long-running labor dispute with the teachers union for the past decade. There have been numerous walkouts, strikes and demonstrations during that time.

The OEA’s militancy stems from the group’s belief that the teachers’ contract strife is part of the larger “struggle” against American capitalism. The union is so intertwined with the Occupy Wall Street protest movement that it’s difficult to know where one ends and the other begins.

Even though the NCTQ report will likely get lost in the fog of the district’s ongoing labor strife, reformers are at least planting the flag for putting student needs first.

It’s only one report, but it’s a start.

via Reformers plant flag in the yard of nation’s most militant union – :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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