Clear Fog Blog

Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Schools Kiss Off $13.2M Grant

Posted by Warren Peterson on May 9, 2008

In a show of hubris that truly dazzles the mind, seven Washington State high schools, including West Seattle and Franklin in Seattle, rejected, turned down, said “nyet” to a $13,200,000 grant from the National Math and Science Initiative to “add and strengthen Advanced Placement courses in math and science.” The hang up was a provision of the grant that would pay AP teachers an extra $100 per student who passes the national Advance Placement test. The tests are optional but students who pass AP tests frequently qualify for college credit.

So what’s the problem? The education lobby is eternally complaining that teachers are under paid. But let’s not base pay on performance. Every teacher should be paid the same, right? Can you imagine actually paying a teacher a bonus based on how well students do on a test? Apparently, the merit pay issue was the deal breaker for the teacher’s union, the Washington Education Association. Any wonder it is difficult to attract and keep top flight math and science teachers in the profession. Oddly enough, such backward states as Connecticut, Massachusetts and Virginia had no problem with the grants.

In addition to the merit pay bugaboo, I suspect there is other below the surface objections found in the politically correct, left wing population of Washington. I heard several talk radio callers express concern about “teaching to the test.” I never understood this argument. If a test covers the basic things one should learn in a course, why wouldn’t a teacher be expected to teach them? We’re talking high school here. Then there’s the “AP is elitist “ crowd. It attracts too few minorities. It causes the student who can’t or doesn’t qualify for AP to feel badly. It’s an over used cliché, but “Give me a break!” The National Math and Science program has been extremely successful in Texas. The number of students, including minorities, taking and passing AP courses expanded greatly. Oh, but I forgot, George W. Bush is from Texas.

Teachers want to be, and should be, treated as respected professionals. Their union and the liberals who run it make that a steep mountain to climb.

Related post on teacher pay

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