Utah's public-education system is being destroyed by the "rot and self-centeredness" of the organized teachers unions that protect "dismal and incompetent" teachers, the chairman of the Utah Industrial Relations Council contends.
Joseph Rosenblatt, speaking to the Salt Lake Rotary Club Tuesday afternoon, cited organized teacher unions as the most serious problem facing Utah - the reason Utah can't achieve excellence instead of mediocrity.Rosenblatt said he built his business, Eimco Corp., into the world's largest manufacturer of underground rock-mining machinery by demanding employee accountability. Eimco is one of Utah's largest non-defense employers.
Organized unions for teachers have stripped the education profession of accountabilty to children and parents, he said.
"The dogma of teachers' unions uses seniority as the only measure of a teacher's worth. The unions' goals are uniform mediocrity.
"Merit pay is forbidden. There is no reliable measure to judge output. Teachers and administrators must be subject to public accountability," he said.
It is shocking what harm can be done by a poor teacher, he warned.
"Among Utah's more than 17,000 teachers, there are thousands who are good teachers but also thousands who are poor teachers. Nothing is so damaging as a bad teacher. It's like blocking out the sun to an eager student."
The state and the nation are still very much at risk in education, Rosenblatt said.
Utah's universities are a tremendous asset to Utah, he said. The money invested in higher education is returned many times through the business and research it generates.
However, the millions appropriated by the Legislature for public education is misused, he said.
In Japan, teachers have classes with twice as many students as in Utah classrooms, yet the Japanese make sure students understand math, science and the languages.
"More money is not the problem. Large classes and large families are not the problem. The problem is we need more good people as teachers who must prove they have the capacity to give our children excellent educations."
To remedy Utah's "terminally ill first- and secondary-education system, Rosenblatt recommended:
-Drafting by legislators of a Bill of Rights for children and parents, outlining their expectations of education.
-Insisting on accountability by administrators and teachers.
-Providing teachers with financial incentive to excel.
-Ending seniority of teachers.
-Appointing board of education members instead of electing them.