Monday, April 23, 2007

SAGE and the teachers unions

I must applaud the Journal Times' editorial today entitled "Democrats could use some SAGE advice". The JT points out that state Democrats, in a partisan vote, blocked a proposed audit of the SAGE program. SAGE is a program designed to reduce class sizes to 15 or fewer in order to improve student performance. The JT rightly asks what harm would there be in studying whether or not the program works.

I suggest that the JT dig a little deeper. Their editorial did not mention the teachers unions. Let us not pretend that the teachers unions are a disinterested party. A lower teacher to student ratio means more teachers. Is there any doubt that the teachers unions support the SAGE program? And is there any doubt that if the teachers unions wanted an independent evaluation of the programs effectiveness, that that is exactly what would be happening? And is there any doubt that Democrats usually, if not always, vote the way the teachers unions want them to?

It makes perfect sense to study the effectiveness of government programs. If they are working, fund them. If they aren't, direct resources elsewhere.

The only reason to avoid the audit is because some peoples interests are served whether the program works or not. Those people are the teachers union leaders and some teachers. If the program can be expanded, regardless of its effectiveness, it is a win for the teachers union. That it might be a loss for school children and taxpayers is unimportant to the teachers unions.

The JT started their editorial with the following quote; "All in favor of sticking our heads in the sand, say aye." Their point was to ridicule the Democratic vote that favored ignorance over knowledge regarding the effectiveness of the SAGE program. But I wonder when the JT will take their own heads out of the sand and begin to understand the insidious influence of the teachers union on education and the democratic process.

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