Home | Classifieds | Place an ad | Obituaries | Public Notices | Galleries | Opinions | Real Estate Search | 928 Media Lab | Contact Us | Subscribe
Prescott Valley Tribune | Prescott Valley, Arizona

home : opinions : commentary February 6, 2016


9/19/2012 10:22:00 AM
Commentary
The fight for our children's future
By U.S. Senator Jon Kyl


Leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union recently called a strike over proposed education reforms and, in so doing, helped spark a national debate about education in America.

One of the most intense discussions centers around whether we should pursue policies that increase teacher accountability using data on classroom performance and student achievement. In my view, this is just the type of reform needed if we truly care about retaining world-class teachers and giving our children the education they deserve. Here's why.

Not everyone is cut out for every line of work. Interviews and resumes are only so good at predicting on-the-job effectiveness; actual performance data is critical in determining whether an employee should be promoted or counseled to seek opportunities elsewhere. All Americans understand this.

Indeed, we rightly expect rigorous evaluation of all those who serve us; just as we demand courteous service from waiters and sound advice from lawyers, we also trust that doctors will not harm us when we visit them. We have this faith because we know that those who can't cut it are eventually held accountable, whether by customers, employers, or through legal action.

How, then, can we accept that those entrusted with our children's futures should not be held to similar standards?

This is about more than simply rooting out bad teachers. The vast majority of young people who become educators do so because they are passionate about improving students' lives. Many are willing to start at low salaries and work hard both inside and outside the classroom. Some voluntarily elect to work in our nation's worst-performing and most dangerous schools. They do this because they care deeply about our children.

I believe it's important to show these teachers that we care about them too.

Yet, under union tenure rules in many jurisdictions, such passionate teachers are often the first to be laid off - sometimes irrespective of their classroom performance. These rules do more than just hurt students and crush the dreams of our nation's best and brightest teachers; they also entrench a mindset that says excellence in the classroom doesn't matter, that it's all about keeping one's head down long enough to secure tenure.

Instead of trying to correct situations such as this, for too long the answer to nearly every education challenge has been to simply spend more money. It hasn't worked. TIME put it this way: "The U.S. spends more per pupil on elementary and high school education than most developed nations. Yet it is behind most of them in the math and science abilities of its children. Young Americans today are less likely than their parents were to finish high school. This is an issue that is warping the nation's economy and security, and the causes are not as mysterious as they seem. The biggest problem with U.S. public schools is ineffective teaching, according to decades of research."

Reform, not just money, is what's needed. As a start, there are teachers out there who should not be teaching. Administrators need the tools to identify them and the power to dismiss them. But, more importantly, school leaders need the ability to effectively reward the good teachers - to incentivize them to remain in our public schools and continue inspiring our kids.

I am the son of teachers. I know that a good education is the key to success. That's why we can no longer afford to shrink from the hard choices. Making reforms will not be easy, especially when pitted against massively powerful and well-funded unions. But what will our children think of us if they found out we abandoned them in their hour of need just because the choices weren't easy?

"It's the biggest social injustice imaginable," a prominent education reformer recently said. "We are still allowing the color of a child's skin and the Zip code they live in to dictate their educational outcome, and therefore their life outcome...We are robbing them every single day of their futures."

"Everybody," she said, "should be infuriated by that."

Sen. Jon Kyl is the Senate Republican Whip and serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees. Visit his website at www.kyl.senate.gov


    Most Viewed     Recently Commented
•   Bradshaw ready to compete for students (481 views)

•   University leaves Prescott Valley (378 views)

•   PV schools earn bragging rights (290 views)

•   Starbucks among new businesses near Kohl's (280 views)

•   Prescott Valley closes Fain Park (277 views)





Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to Facebook character limits. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Required
Last Name:
Required
Telephone:
Required
Email:
Required
Comment:
Required
Passcode:
Required
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.
   


Advanced Search

HSE - We want to hear from you
Find more about Weather in Prescott Valley, AZ
Click for weather forecast


Find It Features Blogs Milestones Extras Submit Other Publications Local Listings
Classifieds | Place an ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Opinions | Real Estate Search | Contact Us | Subscribe | e-newsletter | RSS | Site Map
© Copyright 2016 Prescott Newspapers, Inc. The Prescott Valley Tribune is the information source for Prescott Valley area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Prescott Newspapers, Inc. Prescott Newspapers Online is a service of Prescott Newspapers, Inc. By using the Site, pvtrib.com ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the Site's terms of use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the Site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Prescott Newspapers Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2016 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved