Monday, July 10, 2006

Teachers and Turf Protectors

The Tennessean reports that an educational PAC formed by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce is supporting five challengers, and no incumbents, in this year's metro Nashville school board race. According to the report, one of the incumbents, Kathleen Harkey, was angered by suggestions that she is overly attached to the local teachers' union, the Metropolitan Nashville Educational Association. In response to the criticism, she said, "I have a good relationship with a lot of teachers. To me, the teachers are MNEA."

While I don't know anything about Harkey's contributions to the board, that statement alone is reason enough to oppose her re-election. Enough teachers have left the union in recent years to put its certification at risk not long ago, and the MNEA has consistently opposed changes that would establish clear standards and accountability for Nashville schools. While schools director Pedro Garcia is reputedly, and at times self-admittedly, difficult to work with, at least some, if not most, of his public squabbles with the union and the board have resulted from his insistence that failure is not an option and that excuses for substandard performance are not acceptable. That the union worries more about the allegedly authoritarian leadership style of Garcia than over the long-term failures of the system, particularly with regard to Nashville's neediest students, is reason to give thanks that teachers are NOT the MNEA.

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