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Friday, March 28, 2008

Teachers Unions Vs. The State

posted by on March 28 at 15:48 PM

Teachers’ unions across the state—fed up with the WASL, growing class sizes and funding problems—may be moving towards issuing votes of no confidence in Terry Bergeson, Washington’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Over the next two months, teachers unions in Seattle, Edmonds, Bremerton, Issaquah, Bellevue, Lake Stevens, and Shoreline—among others—will vote on Bergeson, who has held the superintendent position for the last 12 years.

According to Seattle Education Association President Wendy Kimball, the union has repeatedly pushed to reshape the WASL and hiring problems, which Bergeson—one of the architects of the dreaded WASL—has ignored. “{T]he vast majority of [teachers] have very negative positions about the WASL,” Kimball says. “Teachers recognize the need to be accountable [but] this particular test has implications attached to it. It’s high stakes.”

Kimball says SEA—the biggest union in the state—could vote on a motion in May.

Bergeson was unavailable for comment.

RSS icon Comments


fuck the teachers union and the wasl

Posted by Bellevue Ave | March 28, 2008 4:12 PM

The WASL sucks.

More power to the Union.

Posted by six shooter | March 28, 2008 4:14 PM

Only David Blomstrom can save us now.

Posted by tsm | March 28, 2008 4:17 PM

Teachers will be making a huge mistake by killing the WASL. It's a classic case of shooting the messenger. Perhaps they know that high-stakes testing is mandated by both Washington State law and No Child Left Behind, so they feel they can't act against testing. So instead they act against the test itself.

It's sad and stupid, because, at least from an academic point of view, the WASL is a great test. I'd could go into detail on this, but my point is that the WASL does a better job of testing whether students understand the material compared to your classic fill-in-blanks/multiple-choice kind of test. If teachers kill the WASL it could be replaced with a test that is easier to game, but doesn't provide results that are as authentic.

Teachers should be lobbing for resources to make the classroom better, not to make themselves less accountable.

Posted by Rod | March 28, 2008 4:19 PM

thats all the union ever does; makes themselves less accountable. teachers unions are the worst unions out there because theres no way to roll a shitty teacher out of a school unless they truly fuck up huge.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | March 28, 2008 4:29 PM

The Teachers Union is in the business of fighting for better conditions and better pay for the teachers.

The School District should lobby for more resources to make the classroom better.

Since when do we require labor to fight for the quality of the product?

The WASL, by the way, wasn't designed as an individual assessment. The State Legislature originally adopted the test as an assessment of school districts, not students.

Posted by six shooter | March 28, 2008 4:32 PM

Instead of trying to "roll a shitty teacher," you should try rolling some of the assholes who control the money going into classroom resources.

When's the last time you tried to "roll a shitty teacher?" If you and other parents agree, it's not all that hard. With the incredible degree of school choice in Seattle, you could even seek out a school completely 100% shitty-teacher free!

But you're right. Those damned teachers keep demanding representation in labor disputes and fair pay and benefits. If only the school district hired slaves to teach...

Posted by six shooter | March 28, 2008 4:41 PM

I agree with @2. The WASL sucks elephant tears.

Posted by Will in Seattle | March 28, 2008 4:50 PM

WASL flies in the face of everything teachers try to do. Students learn according to their own unique needs and abilities. To lump them together and force them to take the assessment is absurd; the results do nothing to show a kids true progress.

The issue has nothing to do with accountability and everything to do with what is right for the kids.

Posted by Rotten666 | March 28, 2008 5:37 PM

Oh my god. I agree with Bellevue Ave on something.

I need a drink.

Posted by Julie | March 28, 2008 6:46 PM

There are only two unions in America that still work- the teacher's union and the nurses union.
Yeah they are flawed, but my family is filled with teachers and nurses who have a great quality of life due to the unions.

Sorry Julie, Bellevue Ave, all human institutions suck. Start picking on real bad guys- like top down management for schools i.e.-the WASL-(and crazy insurance companies for hospitals.)

Posted by Scott Dow | March 29, 2008 4:59 AM

Let's talk about the real shit-bomb here: No Child Left Behind, and its retarded "progress" goals that are impossible to meet.

Basically, a public school has to show continuous yearly improvement in each level. This includes students in the ESL and special education programs. Keep in mind that this is not tracking the progress of students as they go through school, it's comparing this year's class to last year's. THE RESULTS OF THIS TESTING METHOD ARE NOT USEFUL FOR DIRECTING POLICY. Which, of course, is what No Child Left Behind is supposed to do - make schools look like they're failing as an excuse for the federal government not to give the states education money.

Posted by Greg | March 29, 2008 7:38 AM

I'm a public high school teacher, and I pretty much agree with Bellevue Ave. Get rid of the WASL, which is one of the dumbest ideas I've ever encountered. Not even in communist Russia would such an absurd plan have been tolerated to supposedly improve schools dreamed up by clueless bureaucrats. Also, while I appreciate some aspects of what the teachers union does, it should be possible to fire incompetent teachers. These teachers are out there and the posters are absolutely right to say that it is not possible to fire them once the union gets involved.

Posted by PJ | March 29, 2008 10:14 AM

@4 - I'm a teacher in a public school, and I agree with you that the WASL itself is one of the (if not THE) best standardized tests out there. Definitely the best we have in Washington.

However, in this past session, the legislature decided to make some key cost-saving changes to the WASL, to make it easier (and therefore cheaper) to score. One of the biggest changes is that the number of open-response questions will decrease and multiple choice increases. As I'm sure you know, the open-response questions are the part of the WASL that balance race and gender bias (white males tend to do better than other groups on multiple-choice) and make the WASL a great test. So now it won't be so great, but it will still be high-stakes and expensive, so that's why the unions are taking this action at this particular point in time.

Posted by Emily | March 29, 2008 9:53 PM

The WEA opposition to the WASL is a strategic mistake that will end up driving away support for higher taxes/new dedicated revenue for K-12. The WASL holds everyone -school admins, teachers, & students - accountable, and accountability is essential for increased public funding.

What is the union afraid of? Teachers who oppose the WASL - so mamby-pamby. If a school can't teach "beyond" the WASL (instead of prepping kids for the WASL) and still get students to pass the WASL, then someone else should run and staff that school.


Posted by jackseattle | March 30, 2008 6:39 PM

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