NFL Hall of Famer ponders what if professional football was run like Americas public education system
Fran Tarkenton is one of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks of all time having led the Minnesota Vikings to the Super Bowl three times. Since leaving the gridiron he has become a very successful entrepreneur and in today’s Wall Street Journal he penned a piece pondering how the NFL would look if it were run like our public education system.
In part, Tarkenton writes:
Imagine the National Football League in an alternate reality. Each player’s salary is based on how long he’s been in the league. It’s about tenure, not talent. 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.
Let’s face the truth about this alternate reality: The on-field product would steadily decline. Why bother playing harder or better and risk getting hurt?
No matter how much money was poured into the league, it wouldn’t get better. In fact, in many ways the disincentive to play harder or to try to stand out would be even stronger with more money.
Of course, 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. But that just wouldn’t help.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the NFL in this alternate reality is the real -life American public education system. Teachers’ salaries have no relation to whether teachers are actually good at their job—excellence isn’t rewarded, and neither is extra effort. Pay is almost solely determined by how many years they’ve been teaching. That’s it. After a teacher earns tenure, which is often essentially automatic, firing him or her becomes almost impossible, no matter how bad the performance might be. And if you criticize the system, you’re demonized for hating teachers and not believing in our nation’s children.
There is much more to this extraordinary editorial. Read it here in Tarkenton’s blog.
Tarkenton is spot on in his assessment.
There is little doubt that our education system is struggling and unions have long held back reforms that are needed to improve. Union officers have said that education takes a back seat to protecting their members’ jobs at all costs and ensuring the union remains in power.
Even when a measure has the potential to benefit their members, if it doesn’t come from them, unions will oppose it. We have seen this twice in recent weeks.
Denver voters will be deciding on a measure that would require employers to provide paid sick leave. This is of course a business killing measure that needs to be defeated.
Despite being a benefit that unions would normally fight to give to their members, Teamsters Local 17 actually opposes it. They don’t oppose it because it would result in businesses moving out of the city and people losing their jobs; they oppose it because they worry about the loss of their own power.
As reported in the Denver Post, Ed Bagwell, business agent/organizer for the union said, “Unions are the ones that get these benefits for people. If we let the city do it, what becomes our function?”
Clearly it isn’t about ‘the people’ as unions would have you believe. In their own words and actions unions exist strictly for self-preservation.
Across the country in Florida, some teachers in Miami-Dade County received merit pay bonuses of up to $25,000. These teachers were the best of the best and rewarded accordingly for their extraordinary performance advancing the education of our youth.
Under a new Florida law, teachers will be given performance ratings and student growth will naturally be a factor.
As Tarkenton wrote, “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.”
These reforms in the Sunshine State are actually being opposed in court by the all-powerful Florida Education Association. Once again, the union is against the merit pay because it falls outside their collective bargaining agreement.
It doesn’t matter to unions that those who perform are rewarded. It doesn’t matter to the unions that students are seeing real benefits. All they care about is protecting their power – even at the expense of our children.