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Monday, November 8, 2010

Let down by the Teachers Union… again

Let me start by saying I am a dues paying member of the union. I believe in the union and few things frustrate me more than when people blame teachers unions for problems in education. Unions are not here to protect bad teachers, just to make sure all teachers get due process, nor are they here to stifle education reform, thinking instead we should be at least be doing the basics before we attempt extraordinary measures. So with all this being said why am I feeling so let down?

Well it started when Duval Teachers United filed a grievance against PEN (the professional educator’s network) a local thinly veiled attempt at Union Busting. Despite PEN’s protests to the contrary it is obvious to anybody who applies any level of critical thinking that their goal is to weaken the union. Where I don’t think that DTU’s grievance is unreasonable it made me wonder, is protecting themselves from excursions into their territory first and foremost on the Union’s agenda? Is that what they are concerned with while there are so many other more pressing problems?

What about the stifling policies and procedures that are literally choking the life out of local education? What about the wave of blame the teachers and shake things up administrators that the superintendant has tasked to turning struggling schools around. If teachers talked to or treated their students the same way some principals treated their staffs they would quickly be out of a job and the community would be in an uproar. What about the crushed teacher morale, what about all the kids put in no win situations, what about insisting the district take the code of conduct seriously.

Then what about the thousands of grievances against the school district, because on the mountains of paperwork, more than teachers can possibly do in a day and all the extra tasks teachers are forced to do for free at home while their children are in extended day or wait for dinner, that’s thousands of grievances they could file each and every day. We have all these serious issues and the battle the union chooses to wage is against some Podunk teacher organization that nobody would have heard of or thought twice about if the DTU would have ignored it. That’s where DTU has chosen to draw its line.

One of the biggest problems local public education has is its leaders are far more interested in protecting their niches, their little kingdoms than doing what’s right for both teachers and children. The district is crumbling around us and the superintendant paints a rosy picture at every opportunity. He has created or endorsed policies that push kids along without the skills they need to be successful and gutted discipline. He has instructed his administrators to put yokes on the backs of teachers and work them like farm animals and to get rid as many as they can. Then teachers overwhelmed, marginalized and blamed for the ills of education can’t turn to the union for help because it is far more interested in beating back a push from a little know organization than standing up to and demanding the district does what is right. These are the two entities minding the store of local public education and as things currently stand we shouldn’t be proud of either.

I believe in the Union, I am a dues paying member but I feel disheartened and let down. The district has put me and so many of my children in almost impossible no win situations or are working us until we drop, a common lament with many of the district’s teachers and the union instead of sticking up for me and so many of my teacher brothers and sister has sadly decided it has other fish to fry.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds alot like my former employer and local union (well, the union leadership was more focus on maintaining political connections with our former crooked superintendent -- who whined up screwing us -- and other elected officials than fighting for the best interests of its members)