How Public Unions Hurt Education Reform

In another indication that public unions are losing their power, Democratic Governor Mark Dayton and GOP Legislators struck a compromise for major educational reform for Minnesota yesterday, despite the protests from the teachers unions MPR reports:

Dayton said the compromise creates a true alternative pathway program to address projected teacher shortages, assures well-prepared teaching candidates with content expertise and increases teacher diversity.

The measure didn’t pass last year amidst a public fight between then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the state’s teachers union.

Under the legislation, anyone wishing to become a teacher through an alternative pathway will have to enter a state-approved program, such as Teach for America. Supporters say additional programs would be created, once the language is law.

Those programs and the people entering them would have to meet certain requirements. All candidates would have to have a 3.0 grade point average, for example. The new compromise includes additional clarification on the kinds of testing and teaching time candidates must have before assuming full control of a classroom.

The deal is a sharp contrast to last year, when Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and the state’s teachers union Education Minnesota fought publicly over the measure. The union kept any bill from passing last year in the DFL-controlled Legislature.

The effort also got a boost in January when U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited the Twin Cities and chided Minnesota for not having alternative licensure in place.

But Education Minnesota still opposes the measure.

That’s the same Arne Duncan who was booed by the National Education Association when he suggested education reforms in 2009. These are reforms both democrats and republicans agree we need for our schools and our children, yet the unions still protest and work to keep reforms from happening. Their ability to influence elections and keep anti-reform officials in office actually maintains the status quo in education instead of allowing for innovations and reforms designed to benefit the children. Kudos to Governor Dayton and GOP Legislators for finding a compromise and reaching a consensus on education reform for Minnesota’s children.

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