Fran Tarkenton: Teacher Unions Penalize Education

Monday, 03 Oct 2011 10:21 AM

By Newsmax Wires

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Former NFL star Fran Tarkenton, who now runs two websites focusing on small business education, says teachers unions should be thrown for a loss, as they hold back education, The Wall Street Journal reports. 
 
“Teachers' salaries have no relation to whether teachers are actually good at their job,” the ex-Vikings and Giants quarterback writes in The Wall Street Journal. “Excellence isn't rewarded, and neither is extra effort. Pay is almost solely determined by how many years they've been teaching. That's it. After a teacher earns tenure, which is often essentially automatic, firing him or her becomes almost impossible, no matter how bad the performance might be.”
 
And critics of the system aren’t treated kindly, facing accusations of working against teachers and kids, Tarkenton says.
 
While inflation-adjusted spending per student has nearly tripled since 1970, we have “only middling results to show for it,” he writes.
 
Some say building new school buildings and providing students with computers will do the trick, and that’s the thinking behind school spending in President Barack Obama’s jobs plan, Tarkenton says. But spending on facilities and equipment has more than doubled since 1989 to little effect.
 
Only teachers unions benefit from the spending, he writes.
 
Tarkenton praises the work of education reformers like Bill Gates, the Microsoft mogul turned philanthropist, who favor a decentralized system.
 
Government spending and interference are making the problem worse, he says. “The results we're looking for are students learning, so we need to reward great teachers who show they can make that happen and get rid of bad teachers who don't get the job done,” Tarkenton writes.
 
That’s how it works in the rest of the economy, he says. “If you're good, you get rewarded, and if you're not, then you look for other work.”
 
Bottom line: “Our rigid, top-down, union-dictated system isn't working,” Tarkenton writes. “If results are the objective, then we need to loosen the reins, giving teachers the ability to fulfill their responsibilities to students to the best of their abilities, not to the letter of the union contract and federal standards.”
 

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