The Union that Came in From the Cold

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ATLANTA: Eager to reverse its image as a union heavy out of sync with the national need for a revival of the 3Rs, the National Education Association is considering a proposal to streamline the process for giving bad teachers the boot by giving the nod at last to teacher peer reviews. In place for more than 10 years in some Ohio cities not represented by America's largest teacher's union, peer reviews allow teachers in good standing to work with all new teachers and with tenured teachers not making the grade, recommending dismissals. The NEA has long opposed the reviews for billing teachers as managers, but faced with several state legislatures itching to throw out tenure laws and fire lousy teachers at will, the union is now ready to offer up the reviews as a possible compromise. A vote is expected this week at an annual meeting of the 2.3 million-member organization in Atlanta. State legislatures, no doubt bemused by the sudden about-face, are keeping their eyes peeled.