Author: Doug Tuthill

Are choices in education really less palatable than choices in medicine?

There aren’t many people in the mainstream who would quibble with Scott’s call to allow families of limited financial means equal opportunities to choose the right doctor and to make decisions in consultation with those doctors. But the governor raises a contradiction that school choice opponents seldom address. Why is it appropriate for parents to choose their children’s doctors but not their children’s schools or teachers?

No Child Left Behind demands we employ every option for poor children

In his Washington Post commentary today on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is still offering a narrow definition of flexibility and an unnecessarily limited set of options to reduce the achievement gap. Duncan lauded the bipartisan support in Congress for “providing more flexibility[Read More…]

Unions must fear lost membership more than lost teacher tenure

Rick Scott will be inaugurated as Florida’s 45th governor in just eight days, following one of the nation’s closest gubernatorial races, and it is worth reflecting on what drove the Florida Education Association to call it “the most important election of our lifetime.” Those who think efforts to reduce tenure[Read More…]

What accounts for teacher quality? A school’s grade provides only part of the answer.

I was skeptical about Florida’s school grading system when it was implemented, but the benefits have been undeniable. Schools and school districts have focused more resources on low-income and minority students and, as a result, these student populations have seen significant improvements in their standardized test scores. But my research suggests Florida’s school grades do not reflect differences in teacher quality between schools. Instead differences in test scores seems to be caused by differences in student demographics and school leadership.

It’s time we redefine unionism for teachers, too

Teacher unions should be raising capital to help teachers start and manage their own schools. They should be demanding that all hiring, firing and compensation decisions be made at the school level so that each teacher’s compensation reflects his or her true market value. And as I wrote here last week, teacher unions should learn from professional sports unions and start advocating for free agency for teachers.

Children of color are not the only ones empowered by private school options

As the Florida coordinator of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), I am frequently asked by Democrats in other states why so many elected Florida Democrats support all forms of school choice, including vouchers and tax credit scholarships, but not tenure and teacher pay reforms.  The answer is black middle-class jobs[Read More…]

Merit pay the LeBron way

The tantrum Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has thrown over the departure of NBA league MVP LeBron James was part of the subplot Thursday night as 7-million viewers watched James return to Cleveland in a Miami Heat uniform. But it is also a reminder that not all unions exist merely to protect an employee’s tenure.

In professional sports unions, free agency is the Holy Grail. Through free agency, individuals can sell their services to the highest bidder. All the sports unions have fought — and continue to fight – bitter battles with team owners for the right to free agency. Teacher unions, on the other hand, have historically fought against free agency. They opose teachers having the ability to sell their services to the highest bidder, but this opposition is illogical in this emerging new public education system

Improving the old, creating the new

Midway through this week’s National Summit on Education Reform in Washington, D.C., I was reminded of an observation Thomas Kuhn made in his 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. While researching how scientific fields progress, Kuhn found that during paradigm shifts communities work to improve the old paradigm while simultaneously creating the new paradigm that will render much of the old paradigm irrelevant.