teachers, unions, wisconsin

I was a political science major. Patrick tried to contact Furman to obtain my transcript to confirm this a few weeks ago, when I told him I would rather watch the Bachelor than the State of the Union. Politics interest and disgust me.

Government-bailouts, the DOW, and interest rates. DISGUST. The election of a new President. INTEREST. Universal Obamacare. DISGUST. Possible repeal of Obamacare. STILL DISGUSTED. The revolution in Egypt. INTEREST. Attacks on workers’ unions…

And that gets us to today. Governor Scott Walker’s plans to stop the union’s bargaining rights for public workers have caused outrage in Madison, Wisconsin. Bloggers around the world are comparing the protests in Madison to the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. Give me a break. The fact that these protesters don’t have to fear for their lives as they are standing on the streets puts that analogy to rest.

Here in Tennessee, a similar measure has been moving through the State House and Senate to repeal the power behind Tennessee’s teachers unions. Over the last few weeks, my school has held several faculty meetings just about this “scary attack on teachers” (as it was called in the meeting). Teachers have been asked to contact their state legislators to encourage them NOT to pass the bills. At first, in disgust, I tried to tune out those conversations. But now, As a teacher, and former political junkie… I am requiring myself to form an opinion.

After two years in the classroom, I am nothing close to an expert. However, I have seen the pitfalls of the negotiations that Tennessee’s teacher’s unions have won. Teacher tenure often keeps failing teachers in the classrooms, which leads to failing students in the classroom. (read: teachers get a JOB FOR LIFE after just 3 years in the classroom. The only other job that has a life term I can think of is being a justice on the Supreme Court.)

Our education system needs changing. Walk into any teachers lounge and you will hear that. Teachers complain about the state of our education system more than any other group in our country. Teachers want students to be more accountable–and they need to be. Teachers want parents to me more accountable–and they need to be. Teachers refuse to allow themselves to be more accountable–but they need to be.

Confronting teachers’ unions is a risky way to take on education reform. But we have to start somewhere.


Author: Claire

Hi I'm Claire. I am a freelance writer, Vizlsa lover, and avid runner who lives in Nashville, TN. Nice to meet you.

One thought

  1. Hi Claire! Thanks for your opinion on this. I definitely get your perspective..and I think it's a predominate one in Teach For America in particular. I do think poor, or lazy, teachers at time hide behind unions to maintain the status quo. At the same time, it doesn't have to be that way, and it's not for most teachers. There are other solutions to improve the system, including better teacher evaluation processes. Teacher unions are becoming more amenable to these types of changes, as seen in DC, where they did away with the tenure system as its been for decades.You have probably seen the stats about the states without collective bargaining being at the bottom in terms of student achievement. The lack of collective bargaining leads to a system where teachers are paid poorly, have abysmal benefits, teach in poor working conditions, and can be fired with little cause at the whim of administrators. My mom has been a public school teacher in NC (a non-union state) and is paid a ridiculously low salary, doesn't even get a lunch break, and can be required to attend weeks of trainings during breaks with no compensation. In short, teachers aren't treated like professionals in the same category as doctors, lawyers, nurses, architects, etc. etc. The charter schools, like KIPP, that have been so successful have done so not because their teachers don't have tenure–but because they treat teachers with respect and as professionals, provide adequate support, and compensate them for their time.I think it's time to change the relationship between school districts and unions, and for unions to have higher standards for their teachers, but not to get rid of collective bargaining all together!Jill

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