Teacher unions block Oregon school districts from pursuing federal grants

Oct 5, 2013 by

BEAVERTON, Ore. – Four Oregon school districts are barred from applying for a federal Race to the Top grant worth $30 million over four years after failing to secure union consent.

The Salem-Keizer, Beaverton, Portland and Eugene school districts submitted an intent to apply for the federal grant as a consortium earlier this year, but the consortium dissolved Wednesday after teacher unions in the three latter districts elected not to support the application, according to Oregon Live.

Union consent is a federal requirement for districts to apply.

In a press release Wednesday, district officials said they “value the participation of teachers in key initiatives” and they intend to develop the proposal for possible submission next year.

“This initiative offers a vital opportunity to personalize learning for our students,” read the statement. “A key focus is to increase college and career readiness for a wider range of Oregon students, with a specific emphasis on students who would be first generation college attendees.

“In addition, the grant would have funded professional development and summer stipends for teachers so they could better support personalized learning and college and career readiness for students in their schools.”

The grant would have brought Beaverton $6.5 million over four years.

“The number one reason why we said ‘no’ was we had so many questions that could not be answered,” Beaverton Education Association President Karen Hoffman told the news site.

“[C]lass sizes are still too high, workloads are unmanageable and there is a lack of resources for students to meet their full potential. We just couldn’t take the chance that teachers may be overwhelmed.”

How is turning away millions of desperately needed dollars a solution?

The fact is teachers unions have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Race to the Top requires teachers be evaluated based in part on student performance on state standardized tests – a line many unions refuse to cross.

It’s counterproductive to make union consent  a requirement for federal grants. At the end of the day, teachers are employees of district officials who were elected to make key decisions and run the districts. The self-interests of a few should not outweigh what’s best for students.

In the meantime, the districts said they will look for other grants to provide schools with additional funds.

Teacher unions block Oregon school districts from pursuing federal grants – EAGnews.org powered by Education Action Group Foundation, Inc..

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