June 22, 2010

Time for Teachers' Unions to GET LOUD!

I am a proud member of the teachers' union, the NEA and my state and local divisions of the union. I joined the very day I signed my contract and I am not afraid to tell everyone I am in the teachers' UNION. I don't cop out and call it the "professional organization" or some other cowardly term that tries to hide the fact that I am in a labor union. This post is my way of ranting a little on where I see my union now and in the troublesome future for public education. It is a call for my union leaders to ACT LIKE UNION LEADERS and not to play it safe to try and cultivate their influence gardens in the fancy back rooms of Washington D.C. No, the time is now for teachers in our union to get down and dirty, fight in the streets so to speak because we are truly and honestly fighting for the very heart and soul of American public education!

We are at a point now where the power grab by corporate interests has never been greater in the realm of public education. Testing corporations already greedily feed at the trough, force feeding us their "assessments" and soon they hope to up the ante by seeing that those tests influence what we as teachers get paid. Other fly-by-night for profit groups are eyeing with lust the chance to open up more charter schools to scrape up profits at the expense of the taxpayer and our students. So-called education "reformers" wait at the doors to let the wolves in and cut back on our benefits we fought hard to gain and maintain. Pensions, health insurance, and tenure are all squarely lined up in the firing range and the worst part of it is that the people with the guns are our supposed "friends" in the Democratic Party including the President of the United States we helped elect!

So with these forces aligning against us, now is not the time to be afraid of "rocking the boat" and making waves that get our so called "friends" sopping wet. NO! Now is the time to get mad and give them hell before they allow our public schools to be wrecked and picked apart by corporate greed fiends!

While they are more than happy to scapegoat us and blame us for all that is bad in schools we need to fight back with the facts.

FACT: Performance pay where teachers are paid in part based on the test scores of their students has not been shown to improve student performance.

FACT: Charter schools have not been shown to improve student performance.

FACT: Bad teachers are not protected by unions. Lazy administrators who do not do their job as evaluators are responsible for bad teachers continuing to practice. Unions merely make sure due process rights are followed when a teacher is evaluated. If an administrator was aware of what was going on in the classrooms they could easily and fairly gather enough evidence to let a bad teacher go.

FACT: Pensions and good health benefits are something unions have fought hard for and they in part make up for our lower pay. By the way, if more private sector employees were willing and able to unionize they too would have better benefits and pensions. They need to emulate us not scapegoat us!

These and other facts are pretty easy to prove in a public debate. The real problem is that our union leadership seems to timid to make these arguments LOUDLY and FORCEFULLY. We are so proud of our "seat at the table" but our leaders fail to reveal that the seat we have is at the "kiddie table". We are frequently ignored by the media and our leaders are not heard. Instead our leaders play the old game of Washington D.C. insider glad handing that gets us nothing but a knife in our backs. We need leaders that speak the truth even if it hurts our so-called "friends". We need teachers at public forums, teachers speaking loudly in the media, teachers educating our public about why we are not the scapegoats, we are the last line of defense between their kids and a corporate takeover of education! Get up and get loud NOW!!!!

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