Friday, April 07, 2006

New York Times Op-Ed on Virtual Schools

Here is a piece by Andrew J. Rotherham about the attempt by the teachers’ union, right here in Wisconsin, to shut down virtual Charter schools in the state. Rotherham’s bottom line:
America’s teachers are ill served by the unions when policymakers and politicians are increasingly forced to work around them rather than with them; and the important contributions teachers’ unions can make are lost. In an era of strained budgets and competing priorities, it is politically foolish for the unions to alienate parents and essentially encourage families to leave public schools.

This debate, like the ones over many other education issues, is fundamentally about who gets to have power. Yet the power the teachers’ unions now wield will be fleeting if public schools do not become more responsive to parents.

An industry cannot survive by rushing to court every time a new idea threatens even a small slice of its market share. Instead, maintaining, and even broadening, support for public schools means embracing more diversity in how we provide public education and who provides it.
Rotherham is with the left-leaning Progressive Polity Institute, and doesn’t much like private school vouchers.

Still, there is no denying that he’s right about the self-defeating nature of the politics of the educational status quo.


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