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CNN Commentator: Unions Hurting Connecticut Schools

This week on Face the State we have as our guest Dr. Steven Perry, principal of the critically acclaimed Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, author and education contributor for CNN.   Perry has been before the cameras many times here at Channel 3 (see above,) but usually to conduct a satellite interview with CNN.    This time he’s on our air.

Perry doesn’t hold back on his beliefs and his education philosophy.   He says the student comes first, no questions asked.  During our taping he talked about his school, the state and the city, and about an issue he argues needs to be dealt with, or done away with:  teachers unions.   

“They stand in the way of removing failed teachers.  They make the process so much longer.  When it takes me a year to get rid of a teacher who is not being effective , if your daughter is in the first grade that is her first grade teacher all year,  and she doesn’t get to do that year over.

Perry hopes there comes a day when he can hire non-union teachers.    In addition, I asked Perry about political contributions made by the unions to political candidates.  He is against donations using teacher dues because teachers have no say in who gets the endorsement or donation, in fact he told me his union gave money, from his dues,  to a candidate “he would never give a dime to.”

We also heard Perry’s take on Governor Malloy’s sweeping changes.

You can watch the entire interview with Dr. Steven Perry, this Sunday morning at 11, only on Channel 3.

UPDATE:  Here is the interview with Dr. Perry  http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=6806226

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10 replies »

  1. Perry presents a very biased view of teacher unions. As teachers, we are not interested in having ineffective teachers in our ranks and only ask for due process. As a past local president and now grievance co-chair, I know first hand how the union can help counsel out an ineffective teacher. His experience makes me wonder about his skills as an evaluator.

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    • I’m glad that you’ve commented from your side of the story. I don’t know much about this topic and I’m interested in learning more. Is it true that it can take a year to fire an ineffective teacher? If so, he makes a very good point about that being my child’s entire year in school. That could be very detrimental. I understand how the unions can help the teacher (and that’s great because most teachers are great and deserve all the help/protection they can get) but how is it that the unions serve the children?

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      • Crystal, at the end of Dr. Perry’s remarks he commented that a problem is administrators not doing their jobs well in terms of evaluating teachers. When an administrator is an academic leader and a trained evaluator, they are out and about the school, sitting in on lessons and being aware of what’s happening in each classroom. It is the administrator’s job to fairly evaluate and then assist teachers who need to grow and improve. Too often this doesn’t happen and teachers remain in classrooms. The CEA ( Connecticut Education Association) is proposing changing the due process for removing ineffective teachers change from a maximum of 120 days to 80. Julie above makes some excellent points about how the union protects teachers who are highly effective but are not principals’ favorites for other reasons. Unions are in the position to serve children by advocating for good academic practices. One example is class size. Boards of Education raise class size to contain budgets, but research is very clear that small class size is a key factor in student achievement. Most of the teachers’ rights that unions advocate for are similarly in the best interest of the children.

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  2. Unions work in the best interest of students by helping the teacher who is the best teacher your child may ever have. When administrators feel a teacher is ineffective just because a teacher may have had to use techniques and theories to reach students that they don’t coddle to … In effect giving wonderful teachers a hard time because they simply don’t agree… Too much my way or the highway going on these days…Some of the best,effective, classroom teachers I have had the pleasure to assist we’re loved by their students but maligned by their administrators who were responsible for their evaluations… Unions protect the rights of those teachers who can reach children but aggravate their administrators. In the end it is the student who can relate to their teacher that can learn most effectively. Some of these admins should get their rears back in the classroom instead of collecting huge salaries in comparison to an effective classroom teacher and see what techniques they would use to teach our current generation…

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  3. By law, union dues collected from teachers cannot be used for political campaigns. We have a seperate fund, outside of dues contribution, that teachers contribute to at their own will. It does not come from a payroll dues deduction. Please check your facts because you are wrong.

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  4. Perry fails to mention his dirty little secret- he pushes students out of Capital Prep who need extra attention to be successful. There is a reason he hides behind the magnet school title- try roughing it in a neighborhood school, Dr. Perry, then maybe I’ll care about what you have to say.

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  5. What is so sad is the attack on unions and teachers. The fact of the matter is that we all have the best interest of the students at heart. We really need to begin to address the root cause of the problems with public education. Why are teachers ineffective? What are the reasons why a teacher is not effective in the classroom. Just because a teacher may be having problems does not mean that the teacher is not working hard at trying his/her best. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water and just remember that teachers and unions are in this education business because we care about our profession and the education of all of our students. Let’s work together at solving the problems rather than trying to point fingers for the sake of placing blame.

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  6. My daughter in elementary school made me relize union were ineffective! 3 years of school. 2 bad teachers. Threats from teachers for speaking my point of view. Put her in private catholic school and she notice the difference. “how they cared.” ” how they eat lunch with them.” “how when someone drop someone elses coat on the floor they made them puck it up” ” my other school wouldn’t care.” little things made the difference. My grandchildren will go to private schools.

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