In one of the few remarks any conservative candidate has devoted to education in the 2016 presidential campaign, Governor Chris Christie said on Jan. 9, “The single most destructive force for public education in this country is the teachers’ union.” One week later, he pocket vetoed a bi-partisan legislative bill that would have mandated twenty […]
In one of the few remarks any conservative candidate has devoted to education in the 2016 presidential campaign, Governor Chris Christie said on Jan. 9, “The single most destructive force for public education in this country is the teachers’ union.” One week later, he pocket vetoed a bi-partisan legislative bill that would have mandated twenty minutes of recess. He called it a “stupid law.”
There have been a limited number of studies on the relationships between collective bargaining and educational outcomes for children. In 2000, the Harvard Education Review went out on a limb and suggested a “correlation” between the presence of unions and improved academic achievement, but the authors lacked sufficient data to rate the relationship as “causal” since too many variables are involved.
For any number of studies, the data are, at best, inconclusive for a causal link and not conducive to categorical statements of universal truth. Still, evidence indicates that bargaining states tend to outperform non-bargaining ones for most demographic groups with the one exception being school systems that serve the most economically disadvantaged. Fortunately, our schools in Prince George’s County are a beacon of hope as to what can be accomplished on that latter front.
Collaborative efforts between Prince George’s County Public Schools and Prince George’s County Educators’ Association have given rise to more than a decade of improvements on mandated assessments and a narrowing of the achievement gaps for most of our demographic groups. Together, we are working on raising the bar for instructional practice and more effectively supporting newcomers to the teaching profession. One is forced to wonder how that work might qualify as a destructive force in education.
The research around physical activity for children is, however, incontrovertible. Children need to move and, as learners, they need frequent breaks from cognitive activities to allow processing of new information. Proofs abound in medical journals regarding the relationship between many physical maladies and spending too much time in chairs. A causal link definitely exists between sedentary lifestyles and obesity, Type II diabetes and heart disease.
For children, “play” is an integral part of cognitive processing, as well. Most learners improve performance by experiencing brief periods of intense practice and frequent cognitive breaks. Nationally, children spend far too much time seated and even 20 minutes of daily activity is grossly insufficient.
Let’s review! An immensely popular bill that would have ensured that children experience some – if inadequate – research-based play time is vetoed by a presidential candidate who believes many of the advocates for that bill to be a destructive force in education. Children are once again reduced to playing the role of political pawns whose best interests can be sacrificed for a ten-second sound bite pandering to the enemies of our common welfare.