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More on the NEA

I wrote about NPR's interview with the incoming president of the NEA, Reg Weaver, in my previous blog entry. In the interview, Weaver blamed problems with schools on support for vouchers. He went on to discuss his position on testing and standards:

NPR: The federal law insists that students meet certain test score standards, um...

Reg Weaver: They call it "annual yearly progress."

NPR: And is it the case that the National Education Association doesn't equate high test scores with, say, high standards of teaching?

Reg Weaver: No, no, we have no problems with accountability. But when you're looking at test scores, there are all kinds of things that can be read into a test score. A test score is an output. But what people don't do is they don't focus on the inputs. I'm talking about funding, I'm talking about whether the school is safe and orderly, I'm talking about whether you have qualified staff, I'm talking about whether you have technology. The inputs help to determine the output.

Once again, it's important to parse what Weaver is saying. When questioned about accountability, he turned the discussion around to funding, security, qualifications, and technology -- in other words, everything but academics.

By and large, the teachers I have known are dedicated, hard-working professionals who teach because they love children and can't imagine doing anything else. From what I have seen, it is school administrators, teachers unions, and elected officials who get in their way. Administrators waste money on bureaucracy that teachers neither want nor need. Unions promote confrontation and resist efforts to reward teachers based on their performance. Elected officials constantly meddle, seemingly never to positive effect.

I wouldn't have expected the new president of the NEA to take a more cooperative tone, but he hasn't even taken office yet and already is making things worse.

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