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Quotes: "Counterintuitive" Union Argument Against Teachers' Impact

Quotes2The policy implications of Kahlenberg's piece [are] that instead of pursuing Rhee's reforns, Adrian Fenty's administration in DC ought to have reduced spending on teacher salaries and invested the funds instead in low-income housing subsidies and tax cuts for high-income families. -- Slate blogger Matthew Yglesias on Rick Kahlenberg's recent paper in the AFT Journal

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This is an absurd argument. On the face of it, Yglesias is suggesting that in order to justify their existence (or at least their payment) teachers must accept what amounts to 100% accountability for their students' success. And when teachers (or their unions) balk, then they are essentially saying they are worthless.

All the research shows that teachers are responsible for no more than about 20% of the differences we see in student outcomes. At least 60% of these differences can be attributed to income, family background, and so forth.

It would be a fool's bargain to accept full responsibility for something over which one has very limited control.

We will know reformers are serious about poverty when they stop taunting unions for taking completely reasonable positions.

See Paul Thomas on this question: http://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/teacher-quality-mania-backward-by-design/

I'm confused by what Yglesias' point is. I think it's ambiguous between 2 possibilities, neither of which is very persuasive.

1) Does he mean that teachers are incoherent to think that Rhee-esque reform money would be better spent on poverty amelioration? If teachers think that - and I do - I don't see what's odd or inconsistent about it.

2) Does he mean that it's sensible for teachers to think that Rhee-esque reform money would be better spent on poverty amelioration, but that they're being excessively selfless by saying so rather than demanding the money for themselves?

I don't get it. The whole post strike me as too clever by half.

In fact, there is only one way to get an MBA online. The Internet has made the sea quite possible that more and more students to earn an MBA online through an MBA program.

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