When Michelle Rhee’s revolution comes, teachers’ unions will be the first against the wall
Michelle Rhee never stops thinking of ways to change Washington’s schools, and she’s rolling out another one today. Rhee promises that her proposal, which creates two tiers of teachers, will “revolutionize education as we know it”.
With a phrase like “revolutionize,” you might expect the two new tiers to be humans and robots, or at least proletarians and kulaks. Unfortunately, the truth is much duller. Teachers choose to be in either the red tier, and keep their tenure and traditional pay raise schedule, or the green tier, and elect to forgo guaranteed employment in exchange for cash bonuses.
Commenters on the Post‘s website are sharply divided about the proposal, but most seem to be on Rhee’s side:
Look for all the living-in-the-distant-past national labor unions to circle the wagons and fight Rhee and Fenty tooth and nail on this overdue, commonsense solution to DCPS’s long-festering problem of too many no-good, lazy ignoramus teachers collecting free money at taxpayer expense
Excellent. Bust the union, bust them all. I’ll be happy when unions are no more than a footnote in a textbook.
By and large public school teachers are a fearful bunch. The mere idea of losing tenure strikes terror in their hearts. Why? Millions of private-sector employees work successfully at their jobs without any guarantee that they would ever lose their jobs
If these are the responses from a city as liberal as Washington, then it’s probably time to sound the death knell for organized labor.
Once again, I’m not sure what to make of Rhee’s actions. It’s good to eliminate ineffective teachers to make room for highly motivated new ones, and moving to the green tier is voluntary, so no teachers will be forced to give up tenure.
But the incentives could become coercive for teachers who are struggling financially, and with the termination tear that Rhee is on, making yourself vulnerable is a dangerous game. Not to mention that the system is sure to create divisions between teachers who stick with the old system and those who cross the hypothetical picket line.