In a rare agreement, both teachers’ unions and the Tea Party are resisting federal accountability in education — a stance that could have dire consequences for the quality of schools. Jonathan Alter writes in his new column, “Tea Party And Teachers’ Union Make Strange Brew”:
Talk about bizarre bedfellows. The National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers’ union, and the Tea Party are both arguing against federal accountability standards in education.
The NEA’s position is no surprise. Although its liberal members support federal mandates for special education, desegregation and a hundred other things, God forbid they should be judged by federal standards on the little matter of whether their students are actually learning anything. The union prefers the status quo, where they use their muscle and sophistication to turn every state and local accountability effort into mush.
With the help of hidebound union leaders, superintendents and bureaucrats who care more about their privileges than kids, 17 states have actually lowered standards in recent years to make student test scores look better. Meanwhile, about 90 percent of local school districts that receive Title I aid (intended to help schools that have a high percentage of low-income students) have figured out how to game the system to continue getting funding from Washington while doing virtually nothing to improve their worst schools.