Teachers’ union defines hypocrisy… the latest on education waiver loss

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Supporters of Washington State’s powerful teachers’ union (WEA) are petitioning the White House to reverse Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s decision to revoke Washington’s No Child Left Behind waiver due to our state’s failure to comply with a simple federal requirement.

Yesterday, Washington became the first state to lose the waiver and, along with it, control over nearly $40 million in federal education grants directed toward low-income students. Now, nearly all Washington schools will be classified as “failing.”

The White House petition—initiated by the WEA supporters—reasons,

“The children of the state of Washington deserve to be benefitted and not held hostage to adult issues… This action will hurt children. Mr. Duncan’s callous attitude about those children for political purposes is unacceptable for the Secretary of Education.”

Oh… the hypocrisy—truly astounding and… truly insulting.

For everyone’s benefit, let’s review the story of how Washington State lost its federal waiver:

During the 2014 legislative session, the WEA used its considerable influence over Democrat lawmakers to ensure the failure of a bill that complied with federal standards and protected the waiver in question. The bill would have made a simple adjustment to existing law and require (rather than recommend) student test scores to become one aspect out of many used to evaluate teacher performance.

The WEA really didn’t like the idea. Alas, a term like “require” incurs too much accountability. On the other hand, the word “recommend” allows a certain level of flexibility… you can ignore recommendations.

As is often the case with the powerful teachers’ union, it placed its own interests above those of students and lobbied Democrats against the bill. Democrats—though many actually co-sponsored the bill—heard the WEA’s call and fell in to line with astonishing speed. In the end, all but one lone member of the Democrat Senate Caucus voted against the bill. You see, just like the teachers’ union, Democrats have a tendency to place their own comfort above those of their constituents… and, in this case, students.

Democrats—with the WEA’s encouragement—insisted that all hope for Washington’s chances for a federal waiver was not lost… they had Governor Jay Inslee and his “secret sauce.” Inslee would convince his buddies in D.C. to give Washington a pass… allow our state to keep the waiver despite failure to comply with federal law.

Inslee flew to D.C., met with Secretary Duncun… and failed to convince him to give Washington a pass. Duncun warned Inslee that our state would lose its waiver.

And, we did.

Randy Dorn, state superintendent of public instruction, summarized,

“Unfortunately the teacher’s union felt it was more important to protect their members than agree to that change and pressured the Legislature not to act.”

That’s why the pro-WEA petition is the definition of hypocrisy. After placing the interests of adults above children, after holding what’s best for children hostage to its own relevancy and  after playing politics purely for its own gain, the WEA cannot possibly take a higher-moral-ground position… the powerful union simply has no moral ground left to stand on.

  • RyanGrant

    “In the end, all but one lone member of the Democrat Senate Caucus voted against the bill.”nnWhich means it passed, right, since Republican votes should be enough to pass any bill out of the Senate?nnSee, the fact that you guys at Shift can’t acknowledge that two sides came together to kill this bill is part of the reason that you’re never going to be able to Shift anything. These are all very nice talking points that you keep putting on out there, but until you come into the reality-based community and realize that there are severe and systemic problems with both Common Core and the Smarter Balanced Assessments, you’re never going to have any moral authority on this particular subject.nnI would also invite the good readers of Shift to take a gander at the bill as it passed out of the Senate Education Committee; it’s a pretty look behind the scenes at what the Senate Majority Coalition really wanted:nnhttp://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2013-14/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/5246-S.pdfnnWould you want to be rank ordered on your job based on how 30 ten-year olds did on a test that had never, ever been given before? And yes, Senator Litzow did eventually recede from what he wanted–that doesn’t mean he didn’t still want it.nnWe can dispense with the lie that this would have been good for children another time.nnRegards,nn–Ryan–

    • Anna P.

      I think you’re missing the point of the statement you quote… which is, from my understanding of the article (and the reality of what happened), that the bill that would have prevented the loss was co-sponsored by GOPers and Dems. The support of the original Dem co-sponsors and the majority of the Majority Coalition Caucus would have allowed the bill to pass and thus prevent the loss of control over millions… which, again to my understanding, is a huge blow esp. considering the Court’s McClearly decision. Unfortunately, the Dem co-sponsors actually dropped their own bill and voted against it at the bequest of the WEA.nnYou also seem to be missing another fundamental point and that is that the bill would not have ranked teachers “based on how 30 ten-year olds did on a test”… that is an absurd thing to say as I am sure you probably know. Anyone who as any insight into the truth knows that student performance on standardized tests is just a facet out of many that would be used to evaluate teachers. People in all sorts of careers get evaluated by tests that aren’t necessarily fair– it’s a reality.. and, quite often, leads to unforeseen improvements. Student performance on tests by no means would be the end all be all rank of teachers… I should hope you don’t actually believe that no matter what your opinion. nnnnAs a parent, this whole business amounts to a major loss of trust in the teachers union.

      • RyanGrant

        The bill, as originally written, had one co-sponsor from the Democratic caucus: Steve Hobbs, who no one would accuse of being a pawn of the WEA. The bill was also originally co-sponsored by Mike Padden, a conservative Republican from the 4th LD, who was also part of the group who voted against the bill when it failed 19-28 on the Senate floor. This is all a part of the record:nnhttp://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5246&year=2013nnSo if you’d like to say that people voted against this bill only “at the bequest of the WEA”, you also need to say that to Don Benton, Pam Roach, Brian Dansel, Brown, and Eriksen, and if you (or Shift) would like to tell them, Republicans all, I’d love to see that call-out.nnAs to the ranking, let’s quote the bill as it passed out of the Senate Education Committee:nn”Districts must use student growth data to create a rank order of teachers based on the amount of average student growth achieved in each teacher’s classroom. The bottom quartile of teachers in the rank order shall be identified by the district as requiring additional support.”nn(You can read it yourself, here: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/documents/billdocs/2013-14/Pdf/Bills/Senate%20Bills/5246-S.pdf)nnnSo yes, I do take the Senate Republicans at their word that that’s what they wanted. If you choose to ignore that, then that’s your choice to ignore reality.

  • AJTmom

    Since the teachers did not want to include student testing in their evaluations (I don’t blame them – CCSS/Smarter Balanced is a joke), why are we still holding our students accountable? Now is the time to de-link any exit exam for graduation.

  • http://www.sanitypages.com Johnmichael Monteith

    “As the current law stands in Washington state, 100% of classroom teachers are responsible, every year, for using assessment data to show student growth (RCW 28A.405.100, section 2f). The state tests only would impact about 16% of teachers’ evaluations, whereas the current Washington law requires assessment data from every classroom teacher (district/schools can use district-, school- or classroom-based assessments… which already is happening). nWashington’s current law is stricter than what the USDE wanted. The problem the USDE had is that the law did not require the use of state testing–this non-requirement is largely because of the 16% mentioned above as well as statistical analysis that indicates that these measures were not statistically valid enough to draw causation, only correlation (besides the other states that have tried to attach teacher evaluation to test scores and found it inequitable or invalid, such as cases where the PE teacher’s evaluation is based on the school’s math scores). State schools Superintendent Dorn’s suggestion that the teachers union was stonewalling is a misrepresentation. Sure, unions do bad things sometimes, but in this case, the union was actually demanding that teachers be held MORE accountable than what the USDE wanted. Alas, the USDE wanted certain tests from particular test vendors, for some reason (I’ll leave that up to others to speculate).”

  • RD

    Anyone who believes the WEA, or any teacher’s union holds the welfare of our young as any sort of priority is Kool-Aid drinking fool. Educators (most) = democrats = pro-infanticide.nI wonder how many teaching jobs have been lost do to the murder of 54 million babies the past 40+ years?