Florida Teacher’s Unions Receive Failing Grades

By: Michael John McCrae

Two reports this week out of Florida reinforce my opinion that teacher unions are basically worthless.

A Reuters report out of Miami, Florida tells me: “Nearly half of Florida high school students failed the reading portion of the state’s new toughened standardized test…” and speaks on that 52 percent of freshman and only 50 percent of sophomores were able to score to their reading levels.

I found it interesting that the older sophomores had the lower percentage. It seems that the longer one attends Florida’s union-based public schools, the lower your scores become over time. The short article then quotes: “”We are asking more from our students and teachers than we ever have, and I am proud of their hard work,” Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson said in a statement.”

That statement is absurd. The Florida Education Commission may be “asking more” but the teachers are not giving more. The students are not to blame. The students cannot and do not teach themselves. If the teachers are truly “hard working” then why are results going backwards? How can Gerard Robinson be “proud of failure?

Yet, it is the second report (actually the earlier report) that is even more telling of the plight of Florida’s public school children. As reported by “Orlando.com”: “The Board of Education decided in an emergency meeting…to lower the passing grade on the writing portion of Florida’s standardized test after preliminary results showed a drastic drop in student passing scores. The results indicated only about a third of students would pass this year’s tougher Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test exam, compared with a passing rate of 80 percent or more last year.”

I want to scream, but I won’t. The first reaction should have been to condemn the unions for breach of contract. The students are failing. Reading and writing scores are terrible. Only one third of students can show satisfactory writing ability. Teachers are not doing their job. Yet, the first reaction of Florida’s Board of Education is to lower the score required for passing the writing exam. The first reaction is not to hold teachers and unions accountable, but to erase the poor scores by adjusting the requirements for passage downward. This is unconscionable. The children attending Florida’s public schools are being cheated!

Quoting the article: “The statewide teachers union has opposed Florida’s use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers and grade schools.” And the reason for that is simple. These tests actually reflect the poor quality of education being offered by a union-protected class of educators. Florida’s children deserve better. Even with the lowering of the passing grade, results will still reflect scores below that of the previous year. The “tougher test” excuse is a smoke screen for teacher ineffectiveness. I believe this will not cause the unions any pause for introspection or remorse.

The Governor of Florida is quoted in the second article: “”Our students must know how to read and write, and our education system must be able to measure and benchmark their progress so we can set clear education goals,” said Gov. Rick Scott… “The significant contrast in this year’s writing scores is an obvious indication that the Department of Education needs to review the issue and recommend an action plan so that our schools, parents, teachers and students have a clear understanding of the results.”

The “contrast” might more be an indication that the Department of Education needs to fire ineffective teachers and perhaps levy fines against the unions for not performing to the standards of a contract that should guarantee student success. Yes, “…students must know how to read and write…” If I move to Florida I want to be able to communicate with people who understand the written word and can make change for a five dollar bill. If I open a business in Florida I’d like to be able to read properly constructed and punctuated resumes. I want employees that can read work instructions (especially safety rules) with full understanding. I do not care if they are capable of placing a condom on a cucumber.

A good start for any “action plan” would be letting go Florida’s incompetent teachers.

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