Teachers' unions have generally opposed high-stakes testing of students, particularly as a way of evaluating teachers.
I don't think there's any substitute for testing. As a parent, I want teacher evaluations that are based on student performance, which requires testing.
And that's yet another reason why we need teachers' unions.
"Huh?" you ask. Well, here's my point: High-stakes testing may be opposed by teachers' unions. But high-stakes testing can't work without teachers' unions.
That's because the incentive to cheat is so strong in such testing.
You'll never have honest tests unless teachers feel secure enough in their jobs to report cheating and problems with the test. And if you're going to rat out colleagues or a superior, it's important to have someone on your side -- like a union rep.
You may have read recent stories about cheating in high-stakes testing around the country, perhaps most famously in Atlanta. Well, the Atlanta fraud came to light in part because union-represented teachers reported it.
You'll hear would-be education reformers criticize teachers' unions all the time.
You'll hear them wish the unions could be eliminated as a force. But even if they could bust unions, do refomers really want that?
They shouldn't. You need teachers who are secure in their jobs -- secure enough to challenge those in charge -- if you're going to have the kind of school reform that union critics say they want it.
Reformers and the unions need each other.