04 February 2008

When will The Union get something right?

This month's union newsletter was full of various tidbits that show that the leadership just doesn't get it.

There's a whole page devoted to stirring up the proletariat over We're testing so much---when do we have time to teach? The rant starts off with some undocumented generalizations about how the "era of having 180 days of instruction appears to be long gone," but quickly changes things to money. You know what? The state does spend an awful lot of money on the WASL---I definitely agree with that. But what is interesting is how The Union throws its own members under the bus in the process, describing how many of its teachers have been paid for WASL related training and work. Another point of interest is how they compare the costs associated with "a typical norm-referenced test, such as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills." Um...let's start with the fact that the WASL is not norm-referenced, and end with the acknowledgment that Iowa is now moving to the same kind of state-wide standards found here. Finally, a paragraph is devoted to the State Board of Education's report that the "WASL isn't even a particularly good test." Apparently, The Union doesn't mind all of the money spent by the board for an independent contractor to evaluate things...just independent contractors to develop them.

Meanwhile, The Union is crying about academic freedom again---a big survey is headed in the direction of teachers. (We're not too busy to fill out surveys for The Union apparently, just do our jobs in the classroom.) This seems to come up over and over and there's no reason for it. The case law out there does not apply to public schools. The state code tells us what to teach. There is some choice in how the instruction is delivered, but the "what" isn't up for discussion. Maybe The Union could spend the money stolen from my paycheck on doing something to make a real difference?

I suppose things could be worse. I could be teaching in Denver, Colorado. "The refusal of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association to support the contract waivers sought by Bruce Randolph School has resulted in one of the worst public relations disasters ever suffered by a Colorado labor union. In rejecting the very reasonable reform requests sought by the great majority of the school's teachers, supported by parents and approved by the Denver Public Schools board, the DCTA has gotten a very public black eye that no amount of union doubletalk or sophistry can conceal. The message is clear: Union power trumps both the wishes of teachers and the needs of children."

You can read more here about the problems faced by Denver's teachers who are stuck in a union that is more interested in its own petty agendas than truly supporting the needs of the classroom. It doesn't appear that The Union is going to get anything right in the foreseeable future. What a shame for professional educators and children in our schools.

1 comment:

Hugh O'Donnell said...

I have such ambivalent feelings about the union.

When they prevent an abuse of due process by a crummy administrator, they're heroes.

But when they thwart good education, they're bums.

Like in the educational bureaucracy, leadership makes the difference. Good union leader = goo union interaction with district. Axe-grinding union leader = trouble.