NEA board member Morty Rosenfeld, remarking on an earlier Goldwater Institute Today's News article, recently wrote, "I've become the darling of the political right, the Goldwater Institute hailing me as the second coming of Al Shanker. Not bad for a dues paying member of the Democratic Socialists of America."
Rosenfeld continued, "If teacher unionists can build coalitions with the right to curb waste and use the taxpayers' money more productively, that's fine with me. I'm weary of the political left surrendering all thought of economy and good school management to the right."
Cheers, Mr. Rosenfeld. That makes two of us.
Rosenfeld goes on with characteristic honesty to describe the working conditions of public school teachers today, which seems especially relevant to policy discussions in Arizona in light of the looming teacher shortage detailed recently in the Arizona Republic.
Mr. Rosenfeld says, "It is also time teacher union leaders end all their sanctimonious rhetoric about professionalism. The fact of the matter is, in most of America's public schools not only are teachers not permitted to function as professionals, their working conditions are deteriorating and are horrifyingly reminiscent of those that gave birth to the teacher labor movement to begin with. "
Could there be common ground between an NEA board member and researchers at the Goldwater Institute? Perhaps so. Rosenfeld condemns public school waste, while the Goldwater Institute prescribes transparency and competition as the most effective cure. Rosenfeld laments the lack of professionalism for today's teachers. We contend that the best way to improve teacher pay and working conditions lies in expanding the market for their services. Rosenfeld wonders why an administrator pushing for "emotional" instead of academic education was not fired on the spot. We posit that in a truly competitive education system, absent a significant demand for "emotional education" by parents, such absurdities would be few and far between.
For decades, the biggest political player in setting education policy in this country has been the union on whose board Mr. Rosenfeld sits. The American Federation of Teachers would likely rank second. Next on the list would be a distant third. The fact that Mr. Rosenfeld believes things have gone horribly astray in student achievement, spending and teacher professionalism should lead to serious introspection even on the part of hardened educational reactionaries. Students, teachers and taxpayers have much to gain from completely rethinking our education delivery system.