Teachers’ Union Recommends Reforms

By Telly Mamayek, NewsRadio 830 WCCO

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The teachers union, Education Minnesota, has come out with an action plan to address the state’s achievement gap.

Among the steps, President Tom Dooher outlined at a state capitol news conference Tuesday are all-day, every-day kindergarten statewide, lower class sizes and support services, like medical screenings and wellness programs in the schools.

“It is within our grasp to close the achievement gap in the state of Minnesota. We can do this, but only if everyone recognizes the complexity of the issue and only if everyone agrees that we have a shared responsibility to solve it,” said Dooher.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Telly Mamayek Reports

The union also proposes annual performance reviews of teachers, using various measures including student test scores.

“I think a lot of Minnesotans would be surprised to learn that many teachers go years without a performance review. That failure is inexcusable,” Dooher said.

In addition, Education Minnesota announced its support of alternative licensing that would increase the ranks of teachers in less time than the traditional method. But Dooher says a number of standards would need to be met.

“What we’re not OK with is people experimenting with our students just because you have a desire to teach,” said Dooher.

  • cheezer

    Why worry about the achievement gap? I could care less about the difference between scores for black students vs. white students. Instead, the focus should be on making all students do better. I.e. if both groups raise their scores 10 points, we’re better off as a state even though the gap remaiins the same.

    We need smarter kids coming out of school, not kids who are equal in all manners.

    • Kurt

      cheezer you are right on time

  • K.

    cheezer – you really don’t get it!

  • Matt

    Why does the union have a say in how our schools operate? Isn’t that the function of the education department? In fact why do we have unions in schools? Are teachers being worked so hard that they need a union to back them? This should be about the students, and the best way to help the students is by having great teachers. The problem is the union gets in the way of the bad teachers being filtered out of the system.

    • kurt

      Matt you do get it

    • Chuck

      I have the same question, as to why is the union driving expectations?
      Is this because the union is more powerful than the school boards, etc?
      I believe that is probably the truth and it is completely upside down!
      Let’s insert some real competition and we could pay the teachers more…
      Because the poor ones will be removed and the good ones more effective…
      And cutting back on early retirement options, etc, which are unnecessary.

  • VF

    Actually I think cheezer does get it!

  • K.

    No, cheezer doesn’t get it. I am an educator and know what is studied and measured in the achievement gap. It isn’t as simple as scores between blacks and whites and being able to fix it by just beefing up education. There are many other factors and variables that need to be taken into consideration when looking at the gaps. Just raising the scores in each group 10 points would improve things? This kind of belief and statement obviously is coming from someone who DOESN’T GET IT? Get it?

  • Kurt

    VF as a teacher that works very little per year. I know that you would be the last person in the world to get it.

  • biggerten

    Sned the white kids to school only 4 days a week. Stagger the days. That way we lower class size AND the achievement gap!

    Am I brilliant or what?

  • Mark

    This is just the Union avoiding the real issue. We need to stop life time government pensions. No business can afford them and they are breaking the system. We need to stop life time teacher pensions NOW!

  • darma nelson

    as a former st paul teacher i agree that teachers should be evaluated. it was amazing to see what teachers were doing each day that they should not have been doing! it’s about time!!

  • Rob Wagner

    I’m a teacher and very against the Teachers Union. President Tom Dooher, should be call Tom Dummer.

    • TM

      Or maybe Tom Dumbest!

    • tg

      you must not be an english teacher

  • tg

    @ Mark, The reason that there are long term pensions in Gvt jobs is because generally people who work in the Public sector make much less money than they could make in the private sector. The advantage to the public sector is (or was) stability, security, and benefits. I work in a gvt job, and i know for a fact that if I wanted to work in the private sector I could make double the money i’m making now. But I like what I do, I like the security and the benefits are good. If you get rid of the teachers pensions you can bet your life that all the good teachers will leave and our education system will REALLY be in the crapper!

  • Lets Talk

    The sad part is we are here discussing education “reform” in Minnesota because we are in such tough shape and Pawlenty is on the national tv circuit very proud of the mess he has created. When are people going to speak up?

  • teacher

    So, if you are teaching in an affluent community and the test scores are high, then you get paid well. If you happen to teach in a poor community where children are afflicted by multiple problems and test scores are low, then you are less deserving of a good pay. Teachers will be seeking out jobs in well-to do areas. Who will work with the poor?

    • Matt

      Simple, privatize the schools and provide vouchers that allow students to attend the school that they want. The profit motive would dictate which teachers and schools are up to snuff and which aren’t.

      To answer your question about pay, if it’s harder to get teachers into poor neighborhoods the profit motive would compensate appropriately to meet the demand driven by the open voucher program.

      This is a bit more challenging in rural America where geographic area and population density doesn’t allow for much choice, but it adequately assign assets and combine city schools where it’s needed to survive.

      Unfortunately this thought would frighten to many who are far more concerned with themselves, their union and political correctness to actually take hold, but it would correct a vast majority of the issues with education today.

      Give the power back to the citizens of that city/district micro level and decentralize power from the macro federal and state level which could never adequately put a pulse on what’s happening at the micro level.

  • Bob

    Teachers are over payed sluggs.they should be payed on how well the kids score on tests! They are lazy, almost as bad as government workers!

    • JLH

      Then they need to hold the students, especially the high school student accountable for their own test scores and if they do not reach the acceptable level then they will not be allowed to pass on to the next grade. When there are not any consequences for the scores that the students get on these standardized tests then they do not do their best. Why should the teacher be held accountable for that. Maybe in the elementary school but by high school a lot of the students do not put their best foot forward.

    • Matt

      Bob, I disagree with both of your comments. Yes, there are lazy government workers and teachers, but it’s not the individual, it’s the system that drives the incompetency. If there was accountability to work being completed it would force responsibility and efficiency which is how the private sector works.

      It’s funny there was a comment above about how basically less is expected from government workers, but they are paid less than the private sector. While at certain levels there is some truth to it, on average a government worker makes more than a private sector employee for doing less work and gets better benefits. The problem is there are too few paying in then there are sucking it out.

      Ultimately government is the problem, and needs to be addressed.

  • RIII

    Education Minnesota only cares about itself, as do most unions. They are the reason costs have gone up while enrolment has gone down.

  • Rachel

    I love that teachers are finally going to be evaluated more often!! I think we also need to remember that we live in one of the best states for education! Yes there are still problems but we have more advantages than 85% of the US.

  • Lets Talk

    Since I am from the rural area, the reason costs have gone up is NOT because of the union. It is because of the CUTS to the educational system. Our enrollments are going down out here because people can not afford to live out here unless you are one of the wealthy corporate “family” farmers. Kids are no longer returning home to work. There are no jobs here… no new young families, no children… no children, enrollment drops. But I do agree, teachers need to be evaluated every year no matter how many years they have been teaching.

  • Mr T

    We need to let the students organize their own unions. The teachers say they love unions, let’s see if they would entertain the idea of letting the students(who is supposed to benefit the most) unionize.

  • Victim Du Jour

    Schools need to focus on math, science and biology.

    Who says they can’t mix private education with public education?

    Public schools can focus on core subjects, students who do well can get rewarded with online classes. And private teachers can be used to teach auto repair, anti-Bush poetry, music, African American and gay activism.

    Let the Students pick what they want outside core subjects.

  • ashish

    This union is trying to justify their existence. The union exists for the benefit of teachers and NOT students. They exist to create bargaining power for teacher. I am very skeptical of Tim Dooher and his proposals or comments. His existence is tied to benefits gained for teachers. He has no incentive to make students life better.

    Last but not least, as other readers have mentioned, Why do we need a teacher’s union?

  • Mike

    The problem with the achievement gap is not the schools, it is what they do after school. If the parents don’t ensure their kids study and do their homework before they play their Wii, XBox, or go shoot hoops, you could hire an extra BILLION teachers and it would do little to no good! Education reform needs to start at home!

  • Parent

    I am not a teacher, but I went through the U.S. school system as a student. I have also attended college for a number of years as well. Our kindergarten and grade school children are so young and vulnerable. Let the parents decide who the teachers are to be and what they want for their children. It is not a daycare. Why should it be the teacher who decides. Give back the power to the parents who are being taxed. Pay them for their teaching skills according to the parents evaluation.

    • JLH

      Home school your kids

      • P.

        Ok … then there is no need for teachers. I am fine with that. Let parents home school their children :-)

  • Victim Du Jour

    Public schools should allow good students an online homeschooling option.

    That will allow teachers to focus on the slower kids.

  • bogiebj

    HMMMM, Maybe Unions are part of the problem?
    Did getting rid of Tenure get mentioned?
    Who else gets a job at which performance doesnt matter and its almost job for life?
    Lets look at the superintendent and his 4 assistants, and their 8 assistants and so on and so forth.
    We already pay more per student than most every other country out there yet most of the money isnt reaching the classroom.
    i went to school in the 60’s and 70’s and we had 32 and 34 kids per class. Somehow now thats an issue!
    Holding 95% of the students back for the 5% that dont get it is a larger reason than class size.
    Non parental involvement is another.
    This list goes on and on and throwing more and more money at it doesnt fix the real reasons.
    Take a look at your tax dollar and how much of it goes to schools, then ask them what they are doing with it!

  • Victim Du Jour

    I saw a story about a 14 year old girl who completed an online college degree on her own time.

    It is such a shame our education system ignores that. She earned an animal hospital degree and now her mother supervises her working in the field at a local pet hospital.

    • Parent

      When our children get out of High School they are programed to go back to school; in addition, pay thousands of dollars in order to get degrees, so they can find a good paying job. Where are the jobs though? :-(

      Our school system is not working.

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