In my last post I talked about how teachers should pay the union dues directly, so they can have more control over the actions of their union and because I think it’s veering on an illegal use of taxpayer monies.
I also think that unions would have to pay more attention to their teachers if they had to actually collect the monies. You might be surprised to think that teacher’s don’t have much say in their union. Isn’t it there to protect teachers and represent them? I’m not entirely sure which teachers unions are representing, but its not the majority of teachers.
I can tell you from my own experience as a student in my public schools that the teacher who were younger, more innovative and wanted to make change were easily rebuffed by union officials. So much so that they are scared to go against the union. Scared to speak up? Oh and by the way, the same people you are scared to speak up against, are taking your money for union dues without any say from you.
Now that I think about it, it’s like taxpayers who are scared or unmotivated to approached their legislators about how their own tax money is being spent.
Bottom line, these people are taking your money, more or less without your say so and then are spending it on who knows what.
When I was an intern during my school counseling program, I worked for a counselor who was retiring the next year. She was in a group of teachers who all sat together at lunch and literally gossiped about everyone and made lots of off handed comments about their retirement, their workload, making everything seem like a big sham. They were in it for them first and it at all, the kids second.
Dmitri Mehlhorn has a great piece called: Why Teachers Have No Voice. He makes some very compelling points.
He talks about how his mom was a teacher and when she became a union rep, saw that while she was trying to adovcate for student achievement to be the union’s goal, it was really about job protection and salaries. He says his mom retired early and still worries about ineffective teachers.
A close look shows that many teachers believe in parent engagement and choice. When the chips are down – in other words, when it comes to their own children – public school teachers are twice as likely as other parents to send their kids to private schools. When I had an ineffective teacher as a child, my mom pinched pennies to put me into a private school for a few years. Teachers do this for reasons eloquently explained by Ray Salazar, a Chicago Public Schools teacher who wrote about his choices for his own children and why public education should offer more choices for all parents.
More than anyone else, fellow teachers know how other teachers teach. The most disturbing thing for my as a school counselor intern was that no matter how much time I spend working with a student, I still have to sent him back to the 5/6 ineffective teachers. There is nothing I can do to help him overcome that. And it feels like all the work I do unravels as soon as he walks out the door. I suspect that is why teachers often make choices other than public school for their kids, because while a parent may fight the system to get what their child needs, a teacher knows the fight could be futile, or even detrimental to their own job.
Three quarters of all teachers and an even higher percentage of highly recognized teachers believe it needs to be easier to dismiss ineffective teachers. Unfortunately, teachers feel that they have no voice outside their classrooms.
It is still excruciatingly difficult to dismiss ineffective teachers, while 3/4 of teachers believe it should be easier.
Dmitri’s mom is not the only one to realize that unions aren’t what we need them to be:
My mom’s experience, however, alerted me to the sincerity of those who have concluded that reform unionism is a mirage. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who concluded that teachers’ unions have been an “unwavering road block to reform,” started his career as a teachers’ union organizer. Civil rights leader Howard Fuller traveled a similar path: starting his career as a public sector union organizer, but eventually concluding that the unions prioritized political power over student interests.
I, myself, used to be vehemently for teachers, no questions asked. I assumed, naturally, that the teachers deserved the contracts they asked for because teachers are the foundation of our society. I blindly supported teachers until I started to perform more research. Now I see the evidence everywhere.
Union leaders tend to be unrepresentative. A 2005 survey of membership and leadership by the National Education Association found that only 15 percent of teachers are actively involved with the union.
If unions are going to useful in a positive way, they need to embrace more of their membership. And I think they should get to know all of them better by requiring them to pay the dues out of pocket instead of automatically through their paycheck.