On Teacher Union Conflicts between Pay and Accountability

Kevin Manahan:

The New Jersey Education Association makes it easy to conclude that most public school teachers in New Jersey are lousy or mediocre. They must be, because they’re willing to settle for the same pay the lazy, unprepared and uninspiring slug in the chaotic classroom across the hall is getting.
The NJEA — the union for most of New Jersey’s public school teachers — refused to back the state’s application for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid because the Rise to the Top program demands that teachers tie their pay to measurable student performance.
President Obama has endorsed merit pay, but the NJEA, as expected, has come up with many reasons why this is a bad idea. Of course it won’t propose its own merit-pay formula, because the NJEA is against any form of merit pay.
The union doesn’t want teacher pay tied to testing because a teacher could be penalized if “a kid was up all night playing video games” or “didn’t have breakfast,” NJEA president Barbara Keshishian recently told The Star-Ledger editorial board. That’s a silly argument, because no one would suggest tying a salary to a single test, but those are the kinds of silly arguments the NJEA makes.