Why Ed Reform is Healthier Than Health Reform

On Wednesday, Ed Comm Lucille Davy told the Star-Ledger that, while she was gratified that almost 100% of N.J. public school teachers are “highly qualified,”
That being said, there are other things that go into the determination of teacher effectiveness and qualify. That, I think, becomes the next level.
The same day, NJEA President Joyce Powell told the Star-Ledger Editorial Board,
Merit pay, pay for performance, alternate pay -- these are all the buzz words we're hearing. After polling our members, I don't see merit pay as an attraction for them.
Local districts can bargain for that, but it should be voluntary participation, have a sustainable funding source, and not be based on one measure. Merit pay has to be based on what you as an individual do, not the student.
Snaps to Davy for her candor: the “highly qualified” measurement is simply a checklist of paperwork cordoned off from actual classroom performance. (There’s a lively conversation going on now about whether formal certification matters anyway; here's an example.) The next step is, indeed, those “other things”: evaluating teacher performance through student academic growth (i.e., merit pay). It’s the opposite of Joyce Powell’s/NJEA’s wont, and an atypical divide between a Democratic administration (at the state and federal levels) and the teachers’ union.

There’s been all sorts of comparisons made between the nation’s health reform movement and the education reform movement. Andrew Rotherham over at Eduwonk astutely wondered aloud earlier this month about the inversion of health care and education: Health care reform is focused on taking a sector dominated by privatization and improving it through increasing public sector involvement, while education reform is focused (at least in part) on taking a sector dominated by public sector involvement and improving it through privatization.

Health care remains a highly partisan issue (though the Dems are doing a pretty fine job of screwing it up all by themselves). On the other hand, education reform seems to sit astride both aisles, in spite of the infusion of the private sector. If so, NJEA would be wise to find some common ground.

Labels: , ,