I agree with Ellen Bernstein (just this once)

Ellen Bernstein is the radical left wing head of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation. She wrote an article in the Albuquerque Journal on the ongoing debate over the potential West Side split of Albuquerque Public Schools. She made the point that “there is no data showing school district size as a factor in student’s success.”

This is indeed the case. In fact, splitting districts, a topic which the Rio Grande Foundation is neutral on, is not the type of fundamental reform that is really needed in New Mexico. Rather, if we actually want to improve educational results in Albuquerque or anywhere else, it is Bernstein and her cronies that must be dealt with first. They (the teachers unions) are a primary obstacle to improved educational outputs.

The effort to split APS, while understandable given its broken nature, is not targeting the root problem. Instead, choice in the form of vouchers or tax credits (two different things), smaller schools, and merit pay and accountability for teachers will actually improve schools. Unfortunately, Bernstein and her allies oppose every one of these options.

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4 Replies to “I agree with Ellen Bernstein (just this once)”

  1. The “primary obstacle” to improved educational outputs is not teachers or their unions. It is the refusal to move out of the tradition educational model; cemetery seating; five rows of six kids with nothing in common but their chronological age, moving through 12 years of school in exactly the same direction and at exactly the same speed.

    It is the unswerving belief in the ability to herd cats.

    Teachers are not responsible for trying to educate kids factory style.

    If you want to improve outcomes, look for models that don’t require thirty kids attention at once.

  2. Paul, I think that splitting districts would be helpful. The more districts there are, the lower are the costs for unhappy parents to vote with their feet by moving to a better district; and that provides parents with an increased ability to choose. More districts would not provide as much freedom of choice as you advocate, but at least it would be a move in the right direction. Don’t we need a move in the right direction for a change?

  3. Paul,
    The problem is more fundamental than you suggest–public schools are an example of Socialism and that is the fundamental flaw of public schools.

    All of the other problems of the schools derive from their being run by the government–that is they are derivative problems. What to do? Privatize.

  4. How much ‘smaller is better’ (or at least less inept and more fixable when it’s broken) data do you need? APS, the state’s behemoth district, under-performs the state averages for grads and scores. This despite relative affluence and other favorable demographic predictors. Meanwhile, many of the state’s little, relatively poor, districts actually do fairly well and are of a scale where a citizen driven fix can succeed when they falter. In APS, by contrast, we’ve basically given up, when only 6% of the district turns out for the board elections. Nationally, APS is in the heart of the Big 50. Any of them really outperform their demographic?

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