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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

TAKING ON THE STATUS QUO

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 George Will on Kansas City's new reformist schools chief, who backs Scott Walker's union reforms.

To find what he calls “highly effective” teachers, Covington is seeking help from Teach for America. This year he has 39 of its teachers. For next year, he wants 150 more, which would make them more than 13 percent of his teachers — one of the highest percentages of any district in the nation. To achieve this, he has $3.2 million from such local philanthropies as the Hall Family Foundation and the Kauffman Foundation....

He wishes the school day and year were longer, but this would require money, the scarcity of which shapes collective bargaining with the teachers union: “We give them language instead of money.” By language he means work rules. He says the resulting rules mean, for example, that some teachers will not stay five minutes after school for a meeting. “Overall,” he says delicately, “the relationship with teachers is somewhat volatile.”

So, he is asked, is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) sensible in wanting to confine teachers’ collective bargaining to questions of salaries? Covington: “It makes sense to me.”

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