Sunday, March 27, 2011

NY Teachers' Union's Hypocritical Fight Against Black Students

 Every time I go to work in a local school district, I'm barraged by a plethora of messages from the New York State Union of Teachers (NYSUT). This organization claims to be a 'union of professionals' that has helped not only teachers but has raised the bar for student achievement.

NYSUT's posters take credit for just about everything that has occurred in last 100 years. Whether it be union bargaining, civil rights, or workplace safety. Their website is rife with left wing sloganeering, including an entire section on 'social justice.' Articles within this section include why 'Wisconsin matters' and teaching students how to 'speak truth to power.' Does this include speaking back to the unions? Well, maybe not.

NYSUT's propaganda campaign places civil rights in the forefront. If you didn't know any better, you would believe that the near-lily white organization of upper middle class teachers played a central role in emancipating American blacks from decades of oppression.

Some examples of actual posters placed in classrooms:

If you were a 13 year old student and simply looked at these posters you would believe that the NYS Union of Teachers had actually ruled in Brown v. Board of Education. The Union is more than happy to state that it is truly helping the black population of New York, which dropped significantly in the last decade.

But take NYSUT's actions into consideration. The Union has been in the forefront fighting against charter schools in inner cities.


Because teachers in charter schools are not required to meet union-backed teacher's certification requirements. Add to this that teachers in these specialized schools do not have to pay the mandatory 3% union dues that all public school teachers (including non-union members) have to pay. Not to mention that these coercive dues are collected by the state out of paychecks directly.

But perhaps the biggest reason? Charter schools, with their 'unqualified' teachers, perform better than unionized public ones. The environment in most charter schools is dismal before they opened. Many, if not most, of New York's charter schools opened in minority-majority districts where both crime and 'at-risk' students are disproportionately high. Despite these terrible circumstances, the charter schools work tremendously.

Take an example that has been reported by the New York Post. Despite the unions' badmouthing of the schools they have shown real results. Those without forced unionization scored much better with the state:

The seven charter elementary and middle schools whose members belong to the United Federation of Teachers scored a collective

C-minus on this year's report cards, which are based largely on whether students improve on state reading and math tests.

By comparison, the remaining 50 nonunion charter schools averaged a more respectable B-minus grade, according to the Foundation for Education Reform and Accountability in Albany.
 The teachers' unions have gone out of their ways to destroy the existing charter schools and prevent any more from being constructed or staffed. They have supported candidates who have taken this line and have intentionally worked against those who support charter schools even Democrats. They use the state Assembly and politicians from New York City to destroy even resolutions meant to help charters:

"Charter schools receive a significant amount of taxpayer dollars and as such they should be subject to the same rules and regulations as public schools. They should pay a prevailing wage," said AFL-CIO spokesman Mario Cilento.

Construction workers on traditional public-schools projects must be paid the prevailing wage.

Peter Murphy, policy director of the New York Charter Schools Association, cried foul.

He said that unlike public-school districts, charter managers don't receive government aid to build their facilities and such a mandate would boost construction costs by up to 33 percent and divert funds from the classroom.

"This bill should never see the light of day. It would be a gross injustice to impose a prevailing wage when we don't even get public building funds to begin with, Murphy said.

"This is really twisting the knife in."

Student achievement is what NYSUT and related groups claim is their number one concern, even more than 'social justice' or mandatory wage hikes beyond the rate of inflation. But if you take a look at actual student measurements, you can see the great leaps made by the students in charter schools. These gains take place despite these students being written off because of their race or socio-economic lot in life.

Take these figures directly from the NY City Charter Schools' website:

Clearly, these new proficiency rates show we still have a lot of work to do, but it’s also clear charters are having more success at addressing the racial and ethnic achievement gap. Ninety-four percent of charter school students are African-American or Latino, and when charter school proficiency rates are compared to proficiency rates for these students in the district overall, charters are performing better. In math, 63% of charter school students met standards versus 40% for African-American students and 46% for Latino students citywide; in ELA, 43% of charter school students met standards versus 33% for African-Americans and 34% for Latinos citywide.

The schools work-- and they work best for black and Latino students. For hundreds of students across dozens of schools, the charter school movement represent the best hope of a brighter future and a real education. Being placed in the union-dominated NYC public schools is almost a sentence for educational morass and reduced academic ability, even beyond high school. Graduation rates in these public schools are significantly lower, as well as students that later attend college.

The New York State Union of Teachers has intentionally stepped in multiple times to cut off funding for Charter schools and have closed down at least one existing one. For an organization that would claim credit for the civil rights movement, it must take a look at itself. In the last decade, the NYSUT has destroyed the lives of more black Americans than the Ku Klux Klan has. If that doesn't say everything about their priorities, then nothing will.

Please bookmark!

1 comment: