What Do You Think?
The Texas Federation of Teachers Maintain a Death Grip on Texas Children, Says Dave Zenker
Dave Zenker of The Texas Journal writes about the dismal statistics on education coming out of Texas.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Dave Zenker, The Texas Journal
Texas Federation of Teachers
In Texas, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and custodians direct our educational spending. The results are predictable. According to the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA), Texas leads the nation in illiterates. The Texas Federation of Teachers calls this a miracle.
The Texas Federation of Teachers (TFT) is efficient, effective, and relentless in expanding the benefits, pay, perks and privileges of its membership. Their success has been devastating for Texas children.
To understand TFT priorities, we need only listen to their leaders. The venerated past president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Albert Shanker spoke directly and bluntly in 1985 when he said:
"When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of school children."
Unfortunately for Texas children, The American Federation of Teachers is the parent of the Texas Federation of Teachers. Both organizations view your children's future as an acceptable casualty if it saves union jobs.
Their recent joint efforts illustrate their priorities.
For the last several days the AFT and the TFT have been running multiple joint radio spots in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The spots suggest that the educational standards imposed by No Child Left Behind (NCLB) are superfluous, unnecessary, and unneeded. Nobody, aside from the teachers unions and their cronies, believes that catastrophic failure in educational testing is acceptable.
How bad is it?
Fully 50% of Texas Schools can't meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) as defined by NCLB. Tens of thousands of Texas children should have been permitted to flee their failed Texas public schools. They would have too, but for Shirley Neeley, the Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Commissioner Neeley threw Texas parents, children and Educators overboard. Rather than supporting our children, she elevated cronyism to new heights by allying herself with the TFT. For additional details: Click Here.
Commissioner Neeley is a former classroom teacher.
For inexplicable reasons, Commissioner Neeley agrees that a 50% failure rate is the best we can expect from our students. As long as the Texas Federation of Teachers maintain their death grip on Texas children, she's undoubtedly correct.
If not for the crippling effect on Texas children, TFT obfuscations, protestations and fabrications would be hilarious. When explaining their inability to teach children to read, write and compute, they love to talk about immigrants, ESL students, mobility, non-mobility, the sun, the moon, the stars, anything and everything but the performance of their members and the standards they can't meet.
Let's put an end to their nonsense right now.
Let's examine the performance characteristics of Texas high school graduates. These are the kids that made it. These are the kids parents point to with pride. These are the kids the TFT wants you to look at. These are the kids that require remediation in reading, writing and mathematics at a rate 100% above the national average.
According to the May 18th, 2005 Austin American Statesman, 50% of Texas High School Graduates require remediation in reading, writing and/or mathematics when they arrive at a state university. For additional details Click Here.
It gets worse.
According to "The Condition of Education 2004" published by the National Center For Education Statistics, 25% of high schools graduates nationwide require at least one remediation course. In Texas it's 50%. The Texas Federation of Teachers and the Texas Education Agency would have us believe that our children are only half as capable as the rest of America's. Does anyone that isn't paid by the Texas Public Schools believe that?
No. We don't. Nevertheless, we'll give the TFT the benefit of the doubt by looking at the numbers another way.
The Texas Federation of Teachers is delivering the most poorly educated children in America. Maybe this isn't such a bad thing. Maybe the overall intellectual prowess and ability of the United States towers over the rest of the world. If this were the case, being at the bottom of the heap in America would be like being the 50th wealthiest person on the planet. There's room for improvement, but we're still doing just fine.
Unfortunately, that's not the case.
According to the 2003 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) the United States rank below 20 of 29 industrialized nations. We managed to tie such educational powerhouses as Poland, Hungary and Spain. In order to achieve this lamentable position we must include our "good" students. Those are students located anywhere but Texas. By themselves, Texas students would have faired much worse.
If we're looking to become a Third World Nation, the Texas Federation of Teachers has got us right on track.
After Commissioner Neeley lowered the bar for Texas Educrats, Texas Federation of Teacher's President John Cole declared victory. In a fit of self-delusion, he published an article in Texas Teacher, the internal publication of the Texas Federation of Teachers. In the May 2005 issue, Mr. Cole writes:
"Schools in Texas have accomplished miracles during the past 20 years, mainly because school employees, motivated by a desire to see children learn, kept fighting despite innumerable obstacles blocking the road to success."
Mr. Cole thinks a 50% remediation rate for Texas High School graduates entering Texas collages is a miracle? Mr. Cole thinks 50% of Texas schools failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress is a miracle? Mr. Cole thinks failure by international and national standards is a miracle? Mr. Cole thinks leading the nation in adult illiteracy is a miracle?
What Mr. Cole thinks is a miracle, Texans know is a disaster. By any objective standard, Texas Public Schools are an international disgrace. The only miracle is that these people haven't been fired en masse.
Even before the TEA capitulated to union pressure, the TFT was creative in explaining its failures. Writing in the October 2004 issue of Texas Teacher, President Cole attempted to explain the monstrous budget and poor results that Texas schools are renowned for. In an article entitled "Your Full-Service Schools", Mr. Cole maintains that money wasted on non-educational activities is somehow exculpatory for his union's "World Class Failure" to educate Texas children.
Don't be fooled by union histrionics. A personal story illustrates the absurdity of his position.
I once had an accountant working for me. This person didn't want to be an accountant, he wanted to be a marketing guy. He spent hours and hours when he should have been accounting coming up with marketing ditties and ideas.
I fired this employee because he wouldn't do his job. Teachers that cannot or will not do their jobs should meet the same fate. Teachers are hired to teach. If they want to drives buses, serve meals or coach little league, that's fine. They can do it somewhere else. As my accounting budget was only for accounting, Texas' education budget should be only for education.
Thanks to the Texas Federation of Teachers, we're in the dumper by both national and international standards. What does this abysmal level of performance cost Texas? With the new budget passed by the 79th Texas Legislature, we now spend $34 Billion/yr on education in a state with 22.5 million residents. That's over $1,500 dollars per year for every man, woman and child in Texas.
Don't worry, the TFT has a solution to our situation. What's their plan? You guessed it. More money for their members.
According to the Texas Federation of Teachers, the $34 billion dollars Texas spends on education isn't enough. The TFT needs more, ANOTHER $8 BILLION DOLLARS MORE OF YOUR MONEY. With this additional windfall, they'll implement their "so-called" 100% solution. According to union bosses, if Texas taxpayers will up the ante from $1,500 apiece to almost $1,900 each the sun will shine, the birds will sing and all Texas children will be able to read, write and compute with the best of our global competitors.
Reviewing this inane plan led me to make a few inquiries. What does it really cost to educate a child? I know a woman that home schools her children. I know her kids can read, write and compute. I've seen them do it. I asked her what the hard cost for supplies and other materials was to provide for her children's education. She responded that it was about $100.00/year for both of them, or, $50.00/year apiece.
So, under ideal circumstances it takes $50.00/year to educate a child. The Texas Federation of Teachers wants $42 Billion/year to educate about 4 Million children. This is roughly $10,500 per child. From this we can compute that the average Texas Federation of Teachers Educrat is .47% as efficient as a competent instructor (1-(-$50+$10500)/$10500)). Saying it another way, with the same amount of money the Texas Federation of Teachers produces less than ½ of one percent of the education produced by someone that knows how to teach. Let's be generous. We'll say TFT members are fully ½ of 1% as effective as a competent Educator.
Texas needs to get rid of these people.
For the solution to the Texas education problem, we can once again turn to former American Federation of Teacher president Al Shanker. As the President of the AFT, Shanker knew full well what his people were doing to America's children. He knew full well that Americans would grow tired of their lies. He knew full well that parental power is the solution to educating our children. He knew that parental power is delivered through fully funded education vouchers.
AFT President Al Shanker said the following at a Pew Forum in Whistler, British Columbia, in August of 1993:
"I think that we will get – and deserve – the end of public education through some sort of privatization scheme if we don't behave differently. Unfortunately, very few people believe that yet. They talk about it and don't like it, but they're not ready to change and stop doing the things that brought them to this point."
In the intervening 12 years, nothing has changed; in fact, the Texas Federation of Teachers has sunk to new lows. They now use cooks and janitors to fleece money from Texas children.
The TFT's 51,000 members include not only classroom teachers, but also custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, clerical employees and others.
Why is this important?
The TFT regularly directs its members to abandon their buses, brooms, cafeterias and classrooms. The May 2005 issue of Texas Teacher gloated that more than 1,000 public school employees (not teachers) assembled at a rally in Austin on March 14, 2005. Once there, TFT members prowled the state house halls demanding money. The legislators they accost know nothing about them. They don't know whom they are, where they're from, what they do or if they're any good at it. The TFT member is just another angry face screaming for cash. Cash that should be used to educate Texas children.
For additional discussion, Click Here.
Thanks to the Texas Federation of Teachers, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and custodial people drive Texas educational policy. The results have been disastrous for our children.
Boston University Chancellor John Silber speaking to the Lowell Sun in April of 2001 reflects the feelings of Texans when he said:
"When workers at General Motors go on strike, they are too honest to try the publics patience with self-serving claims that they are really only trying to improve the quality of Chevrolets."
The Texas Federation of Teachers exhibits no such honesty.
Teachers unions have told us they don't care about educating children. This is borne out by both their results and their actions. For the sake of our children, we need to remove Texas Federation of Teachers members from our classrooms and replace them with Educators.
The need is critical. The solution is obvious.
Texas parents, not union bosses, should direct the education of their children. Texas parents, not cafeteria workers, should judge the progress of their children. Texas parents, not bus drivers, should assure their children are provided with a world-class education. Texas parents, not custodial workers, should assure we receive full value for our education dollar.
Work with us. Say NO to unions and YES to education.
Contact your State Senator, State Representative, the Governor, and the Lt. Governor and your State School Board Representative. Ask them to lend their stature and influence to support Texas children. Ask the to support 100% fully funded educational vouchers for Texas children.
To locate your Texas State Representative: