The AFT on standards

The spirit of Albert Shanker lives on, at least some days it does, at the union he once led. The latest edition of AFT's American Educator focuses on NCLB and concludes that accountability and standards are the right approach, but that substantial changes are required in the law - fix it, don't scrap it. John Cole, president of the Texas Federation of Teachers, writes a sound lead story on how standards and accountability saved Texas. Many teachers and administrators knew which schools (mostly serving low-income and minority students) were failing to educate and did nothing to fix them. Standards and accountability outed these schools to the public and "ended the conspiracy of silence." More money helped in Texas, but without reform, it would have been spent on everything except "the things that effect academic achievement." In a second article, Lauren Resnick and Chris Zurawsky show how a standards-based system is "starting to work, especially for the poorest children in the most challenged schools. For the first time in our history, American schools are truly focused on fostering the academic achievement of all students." While AFT and Gadfly differ on some issues, at least one union seems willing to keep the bipartisan comity of 2001 alive. A good lesson for us: not all teacher unions are the same, at least not all the time.

"Standards-based reform and accountability," American Educator, Spring 2005

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