New York Sun: Wisconsin teachers union fights successful virtual school

New York Sun: Wisconsin teachers union fights successful virtual school

December 14, 2007 Posted by Steve Bowen - No Comments

At MHPC’s next Maine Issues Forum, I’ll be talking about some of the new school reform ideas being discussed across the nation, and how they might be implemented here in Maine to improve our schools.
Too often, promising reform ideas such as virtual schools and charter schools never get off the ground because of the one factor in public education most responsible for defending the failed status quo: the teachers unions.
As both a classroom teacher and a legislator, I’ve seen firsthand how the unions make it their mission in life to defend policies that keep poor teachers in the classroom, snuff out any competition to the public school monopoly, and expand their own power and influence.
A good example of this appears in a New York Sun column about how the teachers union in Wisconsin has managed to get the courts to close a highly successful online charter school:
The Wisconsin Virtual Academy has grown in its four years to about 850 students, all there by choice. The online public charter school gets good results on state tests, equivalent to small-town districts from which it draws students. Parents rave about it.
So, naturally, the state’s biggest teachers union got a court to order it closed.

Why would the union do this? Because virtual schools are apparently taking education where it doesn’t want to go. For one thing, the union doesn’t seem to like alternative paths into teaching. Teach for America, which recruits top students from other fields, isn’t in Wisconsin, for instance. WEAC may well fear for its prerogatives.
Nor can it bear to see success for a kind of school that thrives with about one teacher to 42 students. For years the union has been pushing to add teachers by cutting such ratios. With enrollment now falling in about six of 10 districts here, any move to make teachers more productive, as virtual schools do, would deprive the union of the rising membership and influence it wants.

Anyone seen online virtual schools developed in Maine yet? Hmmmmm….wonder why…
Read the entire article here.