More Sternness?

Though not as explicit as these comments from last year, yesterday’s important NYT Magazine profile of SEIU’s Andy Stern carries obvious implications for education policy and politics. It’s also worth reading in general; Stern’s trying to address some serious realities.

However, the article, though not Stern, implicitly puts forward the notion that just changing positions on school vouchers is the way for Democrats to deal with their education problem. That’s a little simplistic (though a surprising number of Democrats think it…). The larger, and more substantive, issues the party must confront include accountability that actually carries consequences for adults and the teacher quality problem, which does as well. Those issues are more cross-cutting and have more impact than most of the small voucher programs currently on the table.

Yet, addressing one aspect of the teacher quality problem — the archaic steps and lanes pay system that doesn’t reward teachers who, for instance, take challenging assignments, have special or scarce skills, or do an outstanding job — cuts against the grain of industrial unionism. Would be interesting to hear Stern’s thoughts on squaring that circle.

Incidentally, for a good look at one approach Dems could pursue on choice, see this article by Siobhan Gorman in a recent Washington Monthly.

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