Today in Topeka about one thousand supporters of higher taxes for more Kansas public school spending rallied at the Kansas Capitol. Their march on the statehouse started at the headquarters of the Kansas National Education Association (or KNEA, the teachers union), and KNEA president Blake West spoke at the rally. It’s quite ironic that the teachers union would be so involved in a rally for the improvement of Kansas schools, for as the following letter from the March 12 Wall Street Journal tells us, the teachers union has been a primary factor in the destruction of public education, in this case, the Topeka public schools.
Early on in my 42-year career teaching in public schools, my principals actually took reading groups, helped with math, were present in classrooms, halls, lunch rooms and on playgrounds. They came into one’s classroom unannounced and stayed sometimes for half a day, and they were taking notes. Their background was in teaching and they knew what they were looking for. By the time I retired, the union had required an administrator to give three to four days advance notice, right down to which period he’d be observing. Yearly evaluations became nothing more than a check sheet, and everyone got about the same score.
Our nation has some of the finest teachers in the world, and a goodly number of the worst. Unless and until teachers are evaluated based on what they accomplish, nothing will change.