On Tuesday, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush fired a salvo at labor groups by attacking teachers’ unions for their refusal to consider reforms.
Bush, who is chairman of the Foundation For Excellence in Education Reform, told attendees of the organization’s national summit:
We need to have a teacher evaluation system that is based on teachers being professionals, not part of some collective trade union bargaining process. We have a system to reward teachers that’s based on an industrialized, unionized model that is completely inappropriate for the 21st century. There are incredibly fine teachers that get paid less even though they’re doing the Lord’s work consistently over time, and there are teachers that are mediocre that get paid more because they’ve been there longer.
The burgeoning movement to take back the nation’s schools from teachers’ unions such as the NEA and the AFT has citizens calling for more parental involvement and less union control.
The NEA and the AFT have been fighting evaluation systems that tie teacher reviews to student test scores, claiming that the results are unfair because of low test scores accrued in low-income school districts.
Unions have already held teacher strikes, notably in Chicago, where teacher evaluation systems and seniority pay scales were the center of the battle.
But reform groups such as Democrats for Education Reform and Parent Revolution are getting more and more involved in the fight; in November, California saw the first successful use of a “parent trigger” law, which allowed parents to engineer major changes to the local elementary school because the school wasn’t meeting the community’s expectations.
The parent trigger law, growing more and more popular across the country, now exists in seven states; it is vehemently opposed by the unions.