Teacher Unions vs. Students (article by Dan Mitchell)

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Teacher Unions vs. Students

Coronavirus has been a dark cloud. But if we want to find a silver lining, the government’s bungled response to the pandemic has exposed some weaknesses in the government school monopoly.

And this could mean opportunity for competing structures that can do a better job of educating kids.

  • School choice – An approach where parents get vouchers that they can send their kids to schools, either government or private, that competeto best serve their needs and interests.
  • Home schooling – An approach where parents direct their children’s education, often in cooperation with other parents and experts who specialize in certain fields.
  • Charter schools – An approach where education entrepreneurs (often groups of parents) set up government schools that operate outside of the existing monopoly.

Even before the coronavirus, there was plenty of evidenceagainst the government’s monopoly.

Politicians have been shoveling ever-larger amounts of moneyinto the system. Yet student outcomes have not improved.

Why? Part of the answer is that too many schools systems are run for the benefit of teacher unions, with student outcomes being a secondary (at best) concern.

And that problem has become increasingly apparent because of the pandemic.

But, in an article for Reason, Matt Welch hopes the despicable behavior of teacher unions may lead to long-overdue reforms.

…in the COVID-scarred year of 2020. Teachers unions, and the (largely Democratic) politicians they back, have relentlessly limited parental choice in the name of maximizing the autonomy of teachers to opt out of classrooms while still getting paid. No other country in the industrialized world has closed schools down to this degree.…The remote learning that tens of millions of kids are suffering through nationally is broadly understood to be a disaster. The results are as predictable as day following night: Parents are pulling their kids out of public schools. …I’m furious that public schools have used our money to fail poor kids. …unions and their allies have made America a global outlier in keeping schools shut, driving parents away from the systems, and some cities, in droves. …the same guilds that have such a concentrated amount of power are soon going to find themselves having to explain to the rank and file just why there aren’t as many jobs anymore.

Or, maybe the union bosses should explain why sauce for the goose isn’t also sauce for the gander.

They vigorously defend their jobs and perks, but they often make sure their kids aren’t victimized by the system.

For instance, here’s the headline of a story forwarded to me by a reader.

Not that I’m surprised.

I’ve shared many examples of two-faced behavior by defenders of the government education monopoly – crummy schools for the children of ordinary people but high-quality private schools for their kids.

So can we hope for reform?

Most of the action will need to take place at the state and local level, but the federal government unfortunately has been playing a bigger role in schooling, so it’s also worth paying attention to what we’ll get from the Biden Administration.

In a column for New York, Jonathan Chait worries that Democrats are so cowed by teacher unions that they aren’t even willing to maintain support for charter schools.

…charter schools have produced dramatic learning gains for low-income minority students. In city after city, from New York to New Orleans, charters have found ways to reach the children who have been most consistently failed by traditional schools. The evidence for their success has become overwhelming, with apolitical education researchers pronouncing themselves shocked at the size of the gains.…in 2015, a survey focused on charters in urban districts, where education reformers have concentrated their energies (and where gains have outpaced suburban and rural areas). It found urban charters on average gave their students the equivalent of 40 additional school days of learning in math and 28 additional days of learning in reading every year. CREDO’s studies confirm the conclusion that the lottery studies have found: In most cases, urban charters now provide the same group of students much better instruction. …The ability of urban charters all over the country to get nonselective groups of poor, Black students to learn at the same level as students in affluent, middle-class schools is one of the great domestic-policy achievements in American history.

Chait is on the left, but he’s honest.

So he recognizes that this is a battle over what really matters – currying favor with teacher unions or delivering better education for kids.

The final element of charters’ formula is inescapably controversial. They prioritize the welfare of their students over those of their employees, which means paying teachers based on effectiveness rather than how long they’ve been on the job — and being able to fire the worst ones. …the traditional practice of granting teachers near-total job security, without any differentiation based on performance, is a disaster for children.

Sadly, many folks on the left have decided that union bosses matter more than children.

They’re even willing to condemn minority children to substandard education to keep the unions happy.

…the second outcome of the charter-school breakthrough has been a bitter backlash within the Democratic Party. The political standing of the idea has moved in the opposite direction of the data, as two powerful forces — unions and progressive activists — have come to regard charter schools as a plutocratic assault on public education and an ideological betrayal. …as Biden turns from campaigning to governing, whether he will follow through on his threats to rein them in — or heed the data and permit charter schools to flourish — is perhaps the most unsettled policy mystery of his emerging administration. …or many education specialists, the left’s near abandonment of charter schools has been a bleak spectacle of unlearning — the equivalent of Lincoln promising to rip out municipal water systems or Eisenhower pledging to ban the polio vaccine. …Today, teachers unions have adopted a militant defense of the tenure prerogatives of their least effective members, equating that stance with a defense of the teaching profession as a whole. They have effectively mobilized progressives (and resurgent socialist activists) to their cause, which they identify as a defense of “public education”.

The actions of white leftists is particularly disgusting.

Polls show that the backlash against charters has been mainly confined to white liberals, while Black and Latino Democrats — whose children are disproportionately enrolled in those schools — remain supportive.

Though there are exceptions, to be sure. Not just Chait, but even the editors at the Washington Post.

But I fear too many Democrats have made a deal with the devil.

Teacher unions bring money and votes to the table. Meanwhile, many Democrats take for granted the votes of minorities. Given these real-world considerations, it makes sense (from a self-interest perspective) to side with the union bosses.

But from a humanitarian perspective, that’s an awful choice.

For what it’s worth, I have zero hope that Biden will be sympathetic to genuine school choice. But there’s a chance he could follow Obama and be somewhat open to charter schools.

And if that happens because of the coronavirus, that will indeed be a silver lining.

P.S. School choice doesn’t automatically mean every child will be an educational success, but evidence from SwedenChileCanada, and the Netherlands shows superior results when competition replaces government education monopolies.

——

January 12, 2021

Office of Barack and Michelle Obama
P.O. Box 91000
Washington, DC 20066

Dear President Obama,

I wrote you over 700 letters while you were President and I mailed them to the White House and also published them on my blog http://www.thedailyhatch.org .I received several letters back from your staff and I wanted to thank you for those letters. 

I have been reading your autobiography A PROMISED LAND and I have been enjoying it. 

Let me make a few comments on it, and here is the first quote of yours I want to comment on:

The story of how this postwar consensus broke down—starting with LBJ’s signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and his prediction that it would lead to the South’s wholesale abandonment of the Democratic Party—has been told many times beforeThe realignment Johnson foresaw ended up taking longer than he had expected. But steadily, year by year—through Vietnam, riots… and Nixon’s southern strategy; through BUSING, Roe v. Wade, urban crime, and WHITE FLIGHT:through affirmative action, the Moral Majority, union busting, and Robert Bork; through assault weapons bans and the rise of Newt Gingrich…and the Clinton impeachment—America’s voters and their representatives became more and more polarized.

I have put many posts up on my blog about school vouchers and how they would lower the cost of good education and give inner city children the chance to go to better schools since their parents would have real school choice!!! Why do you think inner city schools have the worst schools? The answer is those kids are trapped in schools where those educators know their students are trapped!

I suggest checking out these episodes of Milton Friedman’s film series FREE TO CHOOSE: “The Failure of Socialism” and “What is wrong with our schools?”  and “Created Equal”  and  From Cradle to Grave, and – Power of the Market.

Education Week, Part II: The Case for School Choice

November 19, 2019 by Dan Mitchell

School choice is based on the simple premise that we’ll get better results if school budgets are distributed to parents so they can pick from schools that compete for their kids (and dollars).

The current system, by contrast, is an inefficient monopoly that largely caters to the interests of teacher unions and school bureaucrats. Which is why more money and more money and more money and more money and more money (you get the point) never translates into better outcomes.

This is why even the Washington Post has editorialized for choice-based reform.

A few years ago, I shared a bunch of data showing that school choice boosts academic results for kids.

As part of our recognition of National Education Week, let’s augment those results with some more-recent findings.

There’s new evidence, for instance, that Florida’s choice system is producing good results.

…new evidence from the Urban Institute, which…examined a larger data set of some 89,000 students. The researchers compared those who used school vouchers to public-school students with comparable math and reading scores, ethnicity, gender and disability status. …High school voucher students attend either two-year or four-year institutions at a rate of 64%, according to the report, compared to 54% for non-voucher students. For four-year colleges only, some 27% of voucher students attend compared to 19% for public-school peers. …About 12% of voucher students attended private universities, double the rate of non-voucher students. …Voucher students who entered the program in elementary or middle school were 11% more likely to get a bachelor’s degree, while students who entered in high school were 20% more likely. …High schoolers who stayed in the voucher program for at least three years “were about 5 percentage points more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree, a 50 percent increase.”

column published by the Foundation for Economic Education notes the positive outcomes in Wisconsin.

Private schools and independent public charter schools are more productive than district public schools, …according to report author Corey DeAngelis… DeAngelis compares the productivity of schools in cities throughout Wisconsin based on per-pupil funding and student achievement. Wisconsin’s four private-school parental choice programs currently enroll over 40,000 students combined, and more than 43,000 students are enrolled in charter schools. …Compared to Wisconsin district public schools, private schools participating in parental choice programs receive 27 percent less per-pupil funding, and charter schools receive 22 percent less. Yet these schools get more bang for every education buck, according to DeAngelis: “I find that private schools produce 2.27 more points on the Accountability Report Card for every $1,000 invested than district-run public schools [across 26 cities], demonstrating a 36 percent cost-effectiveness advantage for private schools. Independent charter schools produce 3.02 more points on the Accountability Report Card for every $1,000 invested than district-run public schools [throughout Milwaukee and Racine], demonstrating a 54 percent cost-effectiveness advantage for independent charter schools.”

A study looking at 11 school choice programs found very positive results.

Today 26 states and the District of Columbia have some private school choice program, and the trend is for more: Half of the programs have been established in the past five years. …a new study from the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas shows…that voucher students show “statistically significant” improvement in math and reading test scores. The researchers found that vouchers on average increase the reading scores of students who get them by about 0.27 standard deviations and their math scores by about 0.15 standard deviations. In laymen’s terms, this means that on average voucher students enjoy the equivalent of several months of additional learning compared to non-voucher students. …“When you do the math, students achieve more when they have access to private school choice,” says Patrick J. Wolf, who conducted the study with M. Danish Shakeel and Kaitlin P. Anderson. …The Arkansas results aren’t likely to change union minds because vouchers are a mortal threat to their public-school monopoly. But for anyone who cares about how much kids learn, especially the poorest kids, the Arkansas study is welcome news that school choice delivers.

Even if choice is just limited to charter schools, there are positive outcomes, as seen from research on Michigan’s program.

Charter students in Detroit on average score 60% more proficient on state tests than kids attending the city’s traditional public schools. Eighteen of the top 25 schools in Detroit are charters while 23 of the bottom 25 are traditional schools. Two studies from Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (2013, 2015) found that students attending Michigan charters gained on average an additional two months of learning every year over their traditional school counterparts. Charter school students in Detroit gained three months.

Back in 2016, Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal shared some evidence about the benefits of choice.

Barack Obama…spent his entire presidency trying to shut down a school voucher program in Washington, D.C., that gives poor black and brown children access to private schools and, according to the Education Department’s own evaluation, improves their chances of graduating by as much as 21 percentage points. …Democrats continue to throw ever-increasing amounts of taxpayer money at the problem in return for political support from the teachers unions that control public education. …Harvard professor Martin West describes some of the more recent school-choice research. Students at Boston charter high schools “are more likely to take and pass Advance Placement courses and to enroll in a four-year rather than a two-year college,” writes Mr. West. Attending a charter middle school in Harlem “sharply reduced the chances of teen pregnancy (for girls) and incarceration (for boys),” and “a Florida charter school increased students’ earnings as adults.” Mr. West concludes that “attending a school of choice, whether private or charter, is especially beneficial for minority students living in urban areas.”

study by the World Bank found big benefits from choice in Washington, D.C., with minorities being the biggest beneficiaries.

This paper develops and estimates an equilibrium model of charter school entry and school choice. In the model, households choose among public, private, and charter schools, and a regulator authorizes charter entry and mandates charter exit. The model is estimated for Washington, D.C. According to the estimates, charters generate net social gains by providing additional school options, and they benefit non-white, low-income, and middle-school students the most. Further, policies that raise the supply of prospective charter entrants in combination with high authorization standards enhance social welfare. …In order to quantify the net social gains generated by charter schools, we run a counterfactual consisting of not having charters at all in 2007. …charter students who switch into public schools outside Ward 3 experience lower proficiency, quality and value added than before. Proficiency losses are quite severe at the middle school level and for poor black students, who on average lose 6.4 and 5.3 percentage points out of their baseline average proficiency… On average all student groups lose welfare due to the loss of school options, but losses are the greatest for those previously most likely to attend charters. Middle school students, who gain much from the quantity and quality of options offered by charters, are particularly hurt. Further, poor blacks in middle school experience a loss of about 15 percent of their baseline welfare. …The 25 percent of students most hurt by charter removal are non-white, have an average household income of $27,000 and experience an average welfare loss equivalent to 19 percent of their income. …total social benefits fall by about $77,000,000 when the 59 charters are removed.

This map from the study is worth some careful attention.

It reveals that the rich and white families who live in northwestern D.C. don’t have any big need for choice. It’s the poor families (mostly black) elsewhere in the city who are anxious for alternatives.

(Which is why the NAACP’s decision to side with unions over black children is so reprehensible.)

The good news is that there’s ongoing movement to expand choice in some states.

The Wall Street Journal opined about significant progress in Florida.

With little fanfare this autumn, another 18,000 young Floridians joined the ranks of Americans who enjoy school choice. More than 100,000 students, all from families of modest means, already attend private schools using the state’s main tax-credit scholarship. But the wait list this spring ran to the thousands, so in May the state created a voucher program to clear the backlog. …This is a huge victory for school choice. The first cohort of voucher recipients is 71% black and Hispanic, according to state data. Eighty-seven percent have household incomes at or below 185% of the poverty line, or $47,638 for a family of four. The law gives priority to these students… Mr. DeSantis’s opponent, Democrat Andrew Gillum, said he would wind down the scholarships. CNN’s exit poll says 18% of black women voted for Mr. DeSantis… That’s decisive, since the Governor won by fewer than 40,000 ballots.

The final passage is worth emphasis. Reformers can attract votes from minority families who are ill-served by the government’s education monopoly,

Parents in low-income communities aren’t stupid. Once they figure out that government schools are run for the benefit of unions rather than children, they will respond accordingly.

And here’s some positive news from Tennessee.

Governor Bill Lee fulfilled a campaign promise on Friday when he signed a school voucher bill into law. …its passage is a big victory for the Governor and even more for Tennessee children trapped in failing public schools. Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, the measure will provide debit cards averaging $7,300 each year for low-income families to use for education-related expenses. The money can pay for private-school tuition, textbooks or a tutor, among other things. The program is capped at a disappointingly low 15,000 students. Participation is also restricted to only two of the state’s 95 counties—Shelby and Davidson… This is where the need is greatest, given that these two counties have the most failing public schools.

To be sure, the union bosses are fighting back.

Over the years, we’ve seen setbacks in states where we hoped for progress, such as Colorado and Pennsylvania.

Let’s close with this very simple message…

…and this very persuasive video.

P.S. There’s also evidence that school choice is better for children’s mental health since it’s associated with lower suicide rates. That’s a nice fringe benefit, much like the data on school choice and jobs.

P.P.S. Getting rid of the Department of Education would be a good idea, but the battle for school choice is largely won and lost on the state and local level.

Sincerely,

Everette Hatcher III, 13900 Cottontail Lane, Alexander, AR 72002, ph 501-920-5733 everettehatcher@gmail.com

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Video clip:Milton Friedman discusses his view of numerous political figures and policy issues in (Part 2)

July 25, 2012 – 2:16 am

Milton Friedman on Hayek’s “Road to Serfdom” 1994 Interview 1 of 2 Uploaded by PenguinProseMedia on Oct 25, 2011 Says Federal Reserve should be abolished, criticizes Keynes. One of Friedman’s best interviews, discussion spans Friedman’s career and his view of numerous political figures and public policy issues. ___________________ Here is a review of “Two Lucky People.” […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Milton Friedman | Edit | Comments (0)

Milton Friedman believed in liberty (Interview by Charlie Rose of Milton Friedman part 1)

July 24, 2012 – 10:01 am

Charlie Rose interview of Milton Friedman My favorite economist: Milton Friedman : A Great Champion of Liberty  by V. Sundaram   Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who advocated an unfettered free market and had the ear of three US Presidents – Nixon, Ford and Reagan – died last Thursday (16 November, 2006 ) in San Francisco […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Milton Friedman | Edit | Comments (0)

“The Failure of Socialism” episode of Free to Choose in 1990 by Milton Friedman (Part 1)

June 4, 2012 – 1:59 pm

Milton Friedman: Free To Choose – The Failure Of Socialism With Ronald Reagan (Full) Published on Mar 19, 2012 by NoNationalityNeeded Milton Friedman’s writings affected me greatly when I first discovered them and I wanted to share with you. We must not head down the path of socialism like Greece has done. Abstract: Ronald Reagan […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Milton FriedmanRonald Reagan | Edit | Comments (0)

Open letter to President Obama (Part 293) (Founding Fathers’ view on Christianity, Elbridge Gerry of MA)

April 10, 2013 – 7:02 am

President Obama c/o The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on what is going on out here. There have […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in David BartonFounding FathersPresident Obama | Edit |Comments (0)

The Founding Fathers views concerning Jesus, Christianity and the Bible (Part 5, John Hancock)

May 8, 2012 – 1:48 am

There have been many articles written by evangelicals like me who fear that our founding fathers would not recognize our country today because secular humanism has rid our nation of spiritual roots. I am deeply troubled by the secular agenda of those who are at war with religion in our public life. Lillian Kwon quoted somebody […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in David BartonFounding Fathers | Edit | Comments (0)

The Founding Fathers views concerning Jesus, Christianity and the Bible (Part 4, Elbridge Gerry)

May 7, 2012 – 1:46 am

There have been many articles written by evangelicals like me who fear that our founding fathers would not recognize our country today because secular humanism has rid our nation of spiritual roots. I am deeply troubled by the secular agenda of those who are at war with religion in our public life. Lillian Kwon quoted somebody […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in David BartonFounding Fathers | Edit | Comments (0)

The Founding Fathers views concerning Jesus, Christianity and the Bible (Part 3, Samuel Adams)

May 4, 2012 – 1:45 am

There have been many articles written by evangelicals like me who fear that our founding fathers would not recognize our country today because secular humanism has rid our nation of spiritual roots. I am deeply troubled by the secular agenda of those who are at war with religion in our public life. Lillian Kwon quoted somebody […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in David BartonFounding Fathers | Edit | Comments (0)

The Founding Fathers views concerning Jesus, Christianity and the Bible (Part 2, John Quincy Adams)

May 3, 2012 – 1:42 am

There have been many articles written by evangelicals like me who fear that our founding fathers would not recognize our country today because secular humanism has rid our nation of spiritual roots. I am deeply troubled by the secular agenda of those who are at war with religion in our public life. Lillian Kwon quoted somebody […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in David BartonFounding Fathers | Edit | Comments (0)

The Founding Fathers views concerning Jesus, Christianity and the Bible (Part 1, John Adams)

May 2, 2012 – 1:13 am

There have been many articles written by evangelicals like me who fear that our founding fathers would not recognize our country today because secular humanism has rid our nation of spiritual roots. I am deeply troubled by the secular agenda of those who are at war with religion in our public life. Lillian Kwon quoted somebody […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Founding Fathers | Edit | Comments (0)

President Obama and the Founding Fathers

May 8, 2013 – 9:20 am

President Obama Speaks at The Ohio State University Commencement Ceremony Published on May 5, 2013 President Obama delivers the commencement address at The Ohio State University. May 5, 2013. You can learn a lot about what President Obama thinks the founding fathers were all about from his recent speech at Ohio State. May 7, 2013, […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Founding FathersPresident Obama | Edit | Comments (0)

Francis Schaeffer’s own words concerning the founding fathers and their belief in inalienable rights

December 5, 2012 – 12:38 am

Dr. C. Everett Koop with Bill Graham. Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 4) THE BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY Published on Oct 7, 2012 by AdamMetropolis The 45 minute video above is from the film series created from Francis Schaeffer’s book “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” with Dr. C. Everett Koop. This […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Founding FathersFrancis SchaefferProlife | Edit |Comments (1)

David Barton: In their words, did the Founding Fathers put their faith in Christ? (Part 4)

May 30, 2012 – 1:35 am

America’s Founding Fathers Deist or Christian? – David Barton 4/6 There have been many articles written by evangelicals like me who fear that our founding fathers would not recognize our country today because secular humanism has rid our nation of spiritual roots. I am deeply troubled by the secular agenda of those who are at […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in David BartonFounding Fathers | Tagged governor of connecticutjohn witherspoonjonathan trumbull | Edit | Comments (1)

Were the founding fathers christian?

May 23, 2012 – 7:04 am

3 Of 5 / The Bible’s Influence In America / American Heritage Series / David Barton There were 55 gentlemen who put together the constitution and their church affliation is of public record. Greg Koukl notes: Members of the Constitutional Convention, the most influential group of men shaping the political foundations of our nation, were […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Founding Fathers | Edit | Comments (0)

John Quincy Adams a founding father?

June 29, 2011 – 3:58 pm

I do  not think that John Quincy Adams was a founding father in the same sense that his  father was. However, I do think he was involved in the  early days of our government working with many of the founding fathers. Michele Bachmann got into another history-related tussle on ABC’s “Good  Morning America” today, standing […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in David BartonFounding Fathers | Edit | Comments (0)

“Sanctity of Life Saturday” Taking on Ark Times Bloggers on various issues Part E “Moral absolutes and abortion” Francis Schaeffer Quotes part 5(includes the film SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS) (editorial cartoon)

July 6, 2013 – 1:26 am

I have gone back and forth and back and forth with many liberals on the Arkansas Times Blog on many issues such as abortion, human rights, welfare, poverty, gun control  and issues dealing with popular culture. Here is another exchange I had with them a while back. My username at the Ark Times Blog is Saline […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Arkansas TimesFrancis SchaefferProlife | Edit |Comments (0)

Article from Adrian Rogers, “Bring back the glory”

June 11, 2013 – 12:34 am

I truly believe that many of the problems we have today in the USA are due to the advancement of humanism in the last few decades in our society. Ronald Reagan appointed the evangelical Dr. C. Everett Koop to the position of Surgeon General in his administration. He partnered with Dr. Francis Schaeffer in making the […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Adrian RogersFrancis Schaeffer | Edit | Comments (0)

“Schaeffer Sundays” Francis Schaeffer’s own words concerning the possibility that minorities may be mistreated under 51% rule

June 9, 2013 – 1:21 am

Francis Schaeffer: “Whatever Happened to the Human Race” (Episode 4) THE BASIS FOR HUMAN DIGNITY Published on Oct 7, 2012 by AdamMetropolis ____________ The 45 minute video above is from the film series created from Francis Schaeffer’s book “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” with Dr. C. Everett Koop. This book  really helped develop my political […]By Everette Hatcher III | Posted in Francis Schaeffer | Edit | Comments (0)

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