Expect More of the Same

I’m warning you now that I’m planning on ranting a bit today. And coming from ultra-liberal Massachusetts (something I’m actually extremely proud of), I suspect I’m going to be attacked for my opinion on this issue…but here goes.

After a year long search for a new Boston Public School superintendent, the city has finally found a woman for the job. In fact, she has amazing credentials (from what I’ve read, better than the previous candidate who backed out at the last minute). Dr. Johnson has run the Minneapolis school district and, most recently, the Memphis school district: a district twice the size of Boston.

In just a few years she’s made some drastic improvements down there by “offering incentive pay to high-performing teachers, supporting charter schools and overhauling under-performing schools through widespread firings.”*

This is probably exactly what a stagnant school system like Boston needs. I’ve always been a big proponent of pay based on merit (no matter what people say, money is a motivating factor and if a go-getter is receiving the same salary increase as lazy Joe-Schmo, in time, the go-getter is eventually going to feel there’s no sense in working hard and will cease to do so).

But then the article quotes the head of the Boston Teacher’s Union. He states that he’s “looking forward to Johnson’s arrival…”.


There’s no way in hell this man is eager for her to arrive and shake things up. He wants to maintain status quo. How do I know? Because, the rest of his sentence was that the union was “not in favor of any form of merit pay and believes widespread overhauls of schools would be counterproductive.”

So make up your mind. Dr. Johnson was hired for a reason: she’s “a proven leader who can help close the achievement gap in Boston,” according to Mayor Menino. That’s why the mayor hired her, that’s why the Search Committee hired her, and that’s why Boston needs her.

What Boston doesn’t need is for the Teacher’s Union** to be an obstacle to these needed changes.


*According to the Boston metro newspaper, 06/20/07, p. 1. (all quotes from this same article)

**And for the record, I have been a member of a union before (for 5 years).


  1. Comment by Jeff on June 20, 2007 3:17 pm

    Can’t say that I don’t disagree with you. I’m sure the union will do everything it can to avoid having to change which is really sad.

  2. Comment by J.P. on June 20, 2007 3:41 pm

    I have to say that I agree with you completely. I think one (notice I said _one) of the reasons that the public school system is having issues these days is because the really good teachers have no monetary incentive to go above and beyond their lazy counterparts.

    I hope the new superintendent is able to shake things up and get people on their toes!

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