In a recent commentary, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton asks readers to imagine the National Football League with public education’s rigid, union-dictated system that rewards tenure instead of performance.
Each player’s salary is based on how long he’s been in the league. … The same scale is used for every player, no matter whether he’s an All-Pro quarterback or the last man on the roster. For every year a player’s been in this NFL, he gets a bump in pay. The only difference between Tom Brady and the worst player in the league is a few years of step increases. And if a player makes it through his third season, he can never be cut from the roster until he chooses to retire, except in the most extreme cases of misconduct.
No matter how much money was poured into the league, it wouldn’t get better. … [A] few wild-eyed reformers might suggest the whole system was broken and needed revamping to reward better results, but the players union would refuse to budge and then demonize the reform advocates: “They hate football. They hate the players. They hate the fans.” The only thing that might get done would be building bigger, more expensive stadiums and installing more state-of-the-art technology. …
Over the past 20 years, we’ve been told that a big part of the problem is crumbling schools—that with new buildings and computers in every classroom, everything would improve. But … [w]e’ve been spending billions of dollars on school modernization for decades, and I suspect we could keep on doing it until the end of the world, without much in the way of academic results. The only beneficiaries are the teachers unions.
The results we’re looking for are students learning, so we need to reward great teachers who show they can make that happen—and get rid of bad teachers who don’t get the job done. It’s what we do in every other profession: If you’re good, you get rewarded, and if you’re not, then you look for other work.—Fran Tarkenton
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) control the smaller education unions and set the agenda for public education nationwide. In fact, the NEA lobby is one of the most powerful political forces in the country.
“The NEA has been the single biggest obstacle to education reform in this country. We know because we worked for the NEA.”—Billy Boyton and John Lloyd former Executive Directors of NEA affiliates in Nebraska and Kansas respectively
Unfortunately the condition of the nation’s public education system makes the following Oscar Wilde epigram more prescient than witty:
Everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching.
To read Tarkenton’s commentary in its entirety, see What if the NFL Played by Teachers’ Rules?