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Is the public turning against teachers unions?

Kurt Schmoke, the former mayor of Baltimore who helped broker the contract agreement between D.C. schools and its teachers union, had strong words for those who wanting to improve education. “Stop demonizing the unions,” he told an education roundtable convened Wednesday at the Aspen Institute. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan quickly seconded his message. I couldn’t help wondering if the two had happened to catch Monday night’s final episode of “Law & Order.”

The program, centered on a frantic search to find a blogger threatening to assault a New York City high school, deals with some of the thorny issues of school management and reform. The program’s title, “The Rubber Room,” comes from the real-life temporary reassignment centers where New York City teachers who are facing disciplinary action are sent. For those who are less avid “Law & Order” fans and missed the show, detectives first suspect a deranged student, but it turns out the blogger, called Moot, is a teacher who had been sent to a rubber room after he was falsely accused of molesting a student.

What was striking was the villainous portrayal of union officials. So adamant was a union lawyer about protecting teacher prerogatives that detectives were blocked from getting any information to help them identify and locate the would-be killer. That is, until Manhattan District Attorney Jack McCoy shamed him into cooperation. Interestingly, teachers themselves were portrayed quite sympathetically as having hard jobs in a sometimes unjust system, with the ending featuring a heroic teacher who puts himself in harm’s way to comfort injured and traumatized students.

Clearly, the portrayal of the unions in this fictious piece is exaggerated. And, as Duncan stressed, it’s wrong to lump all union officials into one category. Recent events have shown the willingness of labor leaders such as American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten to embrace reforms once thought unimaginable, even as the National Education Association has hunkered down.

Still, I wonder whether some unions have become more accommodating because of changing public perceptions resulting from increased media attention, such as Monday's Law & Order finale. Consider, for example, that the rubber rooms immortalized in it were largely unknown until a damning article by Steven Brill appeared in the New Yorker; only then did the political will emerge to broker an agreement for their elimination.

By Jo-Ann Armao  | May 26, 2010; 5:07 PM ET
Categories:  Armao  | Tags:  Jo-Ann Armao  
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Comments

like most disputes over labor union this one has points for both sides. For decades teachers had been women who had graduated (usually) from high school, and who taught the little ones until they got married - once married the had to resign. Pay was attrocious and based on what a single woman, living at home, needed. But as time went on and unions came into the picture it changed considerably. But teaching was never a lucrative occupation except for those who could not get other work. Worse, the unions often protected teachers who were not doing the job. But on balance, I think we are better off with the unions than without.

Posted by: fstone | May 26, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

Teachers' unions protect bad teachers.

This is a huge problem with all unions and it gives them a bad name.

Quit protecting bad teachers. Bad teachers hurt students.

There is no excuse for this.

Posted by: battleground51 | May 26, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

I have several relatives that belong to unions. I agree that unions are really necessary to protect the workers and middle class. However, it seems that unions elect as leaders those who promise too much, much as the "leaders" of our political parties promise their base too much. I guess the question is: how do we get reasonable people in positions of power. Autoworkers had priced themselves out of jobs. Who could afford to buy their product? In Washington State, where I live, unions pounced on a liberal democrat in a leadership position in our legislature because she didn't follow their positions 100%. Guess what? She won the primary. Boeing workers struck so much, sometimes for good reasons, but sometimes for not, that the company moved the second 787 plant to South Carolina. Does anyone really think their actions helped the mainstream worker? Union extremism, just as management's obscene salaries, is a pox on our country! The sad part is that my views will be attacked as "union hating." For the record I don't hate unions at all, they are necessary to protect the middle class. But I do hate bloated unjustified business bonuses and salaries.

Posted by: Fergie303 | May 26, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

"Consider, for example, that the rubber rooms immortalized in it were largely unknown until a damning article by Steven Brill appeared in the New Yorker; only then did the political will emerge to broker an agreement for their elimination."

Total propaganda. You imply that the unions were in favor of rubber rooms. But they were the creation of the New York City Department of Education, which had the power to quickly process teachers who were sent to the rubber rooms all along.

Posted by: dz159 | May 26, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

"Teachers' unions protect bad teachers.

This is a huge problem with all unions and it gives them a bad name.

Quit protecting bad teachers. Bad teachers hurt students.

There is no excuse for this."


WOW! what a generalization. quit protecting bad parents! if teachers had to deal less with bad parenting (behavior, morals, discipline, work ethic, etc...) and ineffective administrative practices (rules with unrealistic or little punishment, false threats, etc...) then we would be a little less "bad". i am SICK and tired of not having my students show up to school regularly, on time, with materials, and willing/ready to do any work. i guess it must be because i'm a bad teacher and has nothing to do with the fact that most of my students have no accountability nor support from home to push them to appreciate an education.

blame it all on the teachers and their unions. i agree that there are plenty of teachers that are supporting and keeping bad teachers in their positions... but what about the disproportionate number of bad parents improperly raising kids and expecting the schools and teachers to raise them!!! get real and face the real issues that are really impacting the issues in education.

we can reform education until we are blue in the face as a country, but until we are willing to face the social issues that exist within our culture of raising children... we are just wasting our time, resources, and future.

Posted by: istheresocialjustice | May 26, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Is Washington Post/Kaplan Test Services Corporation tool Joanne Armao a shill producing swill -- in the service of the Big Boys & the Billionaires' toy think-tanks? Does Ms. Armao even bother to proofread for grammar & spellcheck the swill that she shills? Is the public becoming wiser and getting disgusted with Hedge Fund gamesters, dreck-swapping/check-kiting banksters, Privatizers & Edu-Profiteers, along with their paid-for pundits, planted operatives & P.R. marketing crew/mouthpieces? The Privatizers & Edu-Profiteers are greased & geared up to scam your family, steal or devalue middle class/working class property & assets, and pounce on your children so as to edu-manufacture mindless consumers, drones, guinea pigs/lab rats, military cannon fodder, and or course a few select 'yes-men/women', technical experts, spokesmodel 'tokens', toxic entertainers, or socio-political fixers (to serve the agendas of the elites).

Posted by: honestaction | May 26, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Is Washington Post/Kaplan Test Services Corporation tool Joanne Armao a shill producing swill -- in the service of the Big Boys & the Billionaires' toy think-tanks? Does Ms. Armao even bother to proofread for grammar & spellcheck the swill that she shills?

Is the public becoming wiser and getting disgusted with Hedge Fund gamesters, dreck-swapping/check-kiting banksters, Privatizers & Edu-Profiteers, along with their paid-for pundits, planted operatives & P.R. marketing crew/mouthpieces?

The Privatizers & Edu-Profiteers are greased & geared up to scam your family, steal or devalue middle class/working class property & assets, and pounce on your children so as to edu-manufacture mindless consumers, drones, guinea pigs/lab rats, military cannon fodder, and of course a few select 'yes-men/women', technical experts, spokesmodel 'tokens', toxic entertainers, or socio-political fixers (to serve the agendas of the elites).

Posted by: honestaction | May 26, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

"Is the public turning against teacher unions?"

Funny , coming from a lady who has spent the past few years thru her attacks on Montgomery County teachers and her blind factless support of Michelle Rhee has given basis for these attacks.

I think one saw similar demonization of Jews in late 1920s and early 1930s Germany and Austria.


I'm sure Jo-Ann's observations come her decades of teaching in troubled neighborhoods.


Posted by: edlharris | May 26, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

And we have these words from NJ Gove Christie (fan of Bruce Springsteen and the Big Man Clarence Clemons):

"Gov. Chris Christie today escalated his war of words with the state teachers' union, accusing union representatives of "using the students like drug mules" to carry information about whether their parents planned to vote."

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/04/gov_chris_christie_accuses_nj.html

Posted by: edlharris | May 26, 2010 11:37 PM | Report abuse

What Joann calls reform is actually false reform.

Posted by: aby1 | May 27, 2010 5:50 AM | Report abuse

Diane Ravitch supports true school reform. Read her book " “The Death and Life of the Great American School System.”

True school reform will never be supported by Joann Armao because she hates teachers, just like Michelle Rhee does.

Posted by: aby1 | May 27, 2010 5:57 AM | Report abuse

" Is the Public Turning on Teacher's Unions : Has the Feline got an offspring ?"

Posted by: puck-101 | May 27, 2010 6:20 AM | Report abuse

" Is the Public Turning on Teacher's Unions : Has the Feline got an offspring ?"

Posted by: puck-101 | May 27, 2010 6:21 AM | Report abuse

" Is the Public Turning on Teacher's Unions : Has the Feline got an offspring ?"

Posted by: puck-101 | May 27, 2010 6:21 AM | Report abuse

Legend tells a story of "Diogenes of Sinope". Diogenes went about ancient Greece, with a lighted lantern in a vain search for an honest man. Recent District history has readers in search of an honest editorial from The Washington Post. Ms. Jo-Ann Armao’s writing clearly indicates her inability to see clearly or objectively on matters dealing with District of Columbia Public Schools.

Through her vitriolic commentaries, Ms. Armao has sought to defend the reckless and divisive management style of DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Ms. Armao purposely writes false and misleading statements about District public school teachers and the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU).

In Ms. Armao’s race to be crowned Chancellor Rhee’s best shoe shiner, she has with malice intent misrepresented positions of the WTU and District community public education school advocates. Ms. Armao’ has demonstrated open hostility to the views about reforming District public education, which do not regurgitate those of Chancellor Rhee.

Ms. Armao is intellectually dishonest and journalistically hypocritical as she covers for the arrogance, race baiting tactics, and union busting plans of Chancellor Rhee. The editorial board of The Washington Post has a clear agenda to destroy DC Public Schools and to replace it with a system of independent and unregulated public (in name only) charter schools.

It is rhetorical manipulation of Ms. Armao to ask the question “Is the public turning away from teachers union?” The truth, something Ms. Armao obviously does not respect, is the public is turning away from The Washington Post. The public is losing trust in the honesty and integrity of The Washington Post.

Ms. Armao and the editorial board of The Washington Post interests are less about improving District public education for District children, but rather more about preserving the monetary interests of the business status quo. On matters relating with District of Columbia Public Schools, Ms. Armao is an editorial writing prostitute serving public education reform pimps.

Diogenes never found an honest man, but in the process of looking, he exposed many liars.

Robert Vinson Brannum
rbrannum@robertbrannum.com

Posted by: robert158 | May 27, 2010 7:00 AM | Report abuse

Teacher unions are deliberately far too weak. At their state conventions, NEA state affiliates wind up endorsing resolutions that have nothing to do with conditions for teachers, and the dues teachers pay wind up lobbying state legislatures for other matters, like grape pickers' rights, pro-choice issues, and other thingss dear to "Progressives," aka far-left liberals. If teacher unions concentrated on teacher issues, the unions would be serving their membership far more effectively.

Posted by: sailhardy | May 27, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Factual Problems of our school:
1-Big City schools with a majority of minority children with little or no educational back up from a home life of one or no parents ( Grand Parents?)and, in which drugs are a part of that life, is an unsurmountible problem of teachers.
2- Attitudes- Such a background fosters the attitude , "It's a white thing ya know'.
2-Union policies protect known incompetent teachers.

Posted by: bilmul83 | May 27, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

If teachers are professionals as they claim to be, then their union should be in the forefront of education reform. But it is not: it opposes merit pay and chooses to put job and seniority protection above all else including quality and accountability. Paying teachers more is not the answer; just firing incompetent teachers is not the answer either. Both are part of the solution and teachers should be pushing for radical changes because they know change is needed and they know where the problems lie. Any teacher can tell you who the incompetent teachers and administrators are at her school. There is a disconnect between the professional teachers and their union. It is time for teachers to step up and show that it is not about salaries, job protection, accountability etc. but it is about quality education for children, and they know both what does not work and what needs to be done.

It is absurd to say that administrators and teachers cannot be held accountable for results. But they cannot be held responsible for the socio-economic shortcomings of their student population. The home environment is a far more powerful influence than the school can ever be. Therefore school and teacher appraisal/rating needs to be sophisticated and nuanced and designed for the particular school, not some mythical national or state standard.

Posted by: eyendall2 | May 27, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Factual Problems of our Public Schools
1-The great majority of failing schools are from communities with 80 percent ( or better) of minority students. Such students have little or no educational back up from a home life consisting of maybe one or no parents with little or no schooling background and prevailing drug accessibilities.
2-These students have the attitude, 'Why Study. It's a white thing'. This is a major teacher problem.
3-Union policies protect known incompetent teachers.

My daughter teaches in that type of school.
She is a summa cum laude graduate of Michigan State Univ.

Semper Fi

Posted by: bilmul83 | May 27, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Like anything, unions have good and bad points. People have pointed out that the unions protect "bad" teachers. To a degree, this is true, but the flip side is also true. The unions protect good teachers from some of the crazy parental situations that occur. A good friend of mine (who has won multiple awards for teaching excellence) recently had an encounter with a family that was totally nuts. They disagreed with one of his policies. He met with them to explain the policy. At the meeting, they seemed very agreeable and thanked him for meeting. Afterward they went home and created a secret document listing ever single thing he ever said or did that the family interpreted as inappropriate. (And believe me, it was crazy stuff. "The teacher humiliated me because he said "hi" to me in the hallway" kind of stuff.) The teacher ended up meeting with the family 5 more times-- with various administrators and even a representative from the county. No matter what he did, the family was never satisfied and ultimately they ended up transferring their child to another school, where they did EXACTLY the same thing to another teacher at that school.

In this instance, the union was a big help. The teacher was legitimately trying to work with this family and ended up being harassed by them. It got to the point where the school administrators and the union had to craft a policy where this student was removed from the class and the parents were not permitted to contact the teacher. This situation nearly drove a very good teacher out of the classroom

So . . . while many will focus on the negative points of the teachers' unions, it's important to remember the good that they do, too.

Posted by: EducationAdvocate | May 27, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Despite stealing its stories from newspapers, Law and Order was always a silly show bearing no resemblance to actual policework or the criminal justice system. It's not surprising the show ended its run with cheap swipes at bloggers and teacher's unions, they've been setting up and attacking straw men for twenty years.

Posted by: dnahatch1 | May 27, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

I think there are many good teachers that deserve good pay for the contibution they make to our nations school children. They work in a much tougher environment today than when I was in school. The problems in our schools are enormous. However the unions are way too strong. I say this because last winter where I come from the kids missed over two weeks of school due to the many snow days. When the counties wanted the teachers to forgo their winter vacation,and Presidents Day off and keep the schools open, the teachers and union vehemently protested,that was against the union rules. Who were the losers here, the kids. They lost two weeks of school. They do have to make some of it up by going to school a few 1/2 days longer in June. That does not equate to a full day lost during the winter season.I believe the teachers should have given up their winter vacations and paid winter holidays to make up for the snow days they did not have classes and got paid for.That's why I believe the teachers unions have no reality

Posted by: maryb5302 | May 27, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

"I believe the teachers should have given up their winter vacations and paid winter holidays to make up for the snow days they did not have classes and got paid for."

In most school systems, teachers are not paid for days off including winter and spring break and summers. That being said, it may not have been the union that fought using those days a make up days.

Many years ago, my school system made up days during spring break. A large number of our students were absent due to prearranged vacations during that time. The numbers were large enough to prevent us from any meaningful instruction. Days made up at the end of the year are also problematic at the secondary level because graduations are already scheduled and cannot be changed. Adding time to the day makes more sense from the standpoint that the students are already there. You can increase the minutes of instruction accordingly. Typically people like to add back time prior to state testing since that is the main priority in most schools. It shouldn't be, but the reality is that most instruction is about the state tests--a situation that will only become worse if state test results are the only measure of a teacher's effectiveness.

Posted by: musiclady | May 27, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Michelle Rhee is corrupt and exhibits pathological mendacity. According to her own sleazy remarks, why was she so afraid of the details of the proposed Teachers' Contract leaking out to the purview of the teachers, parents/families, media & general public ??? She doesn't seem to get the concepts of public governance, 'sunshine' policies & rules, citizen awareness & participation, democracy, or the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. She is absolutely clueless about inspiring synergistic teamwork.

Posted by: honestaction | May 27, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

(re: the Inspector General situation, Kevin Johnson's school-violating sexcapades and egregious financial corruption & Rhee's coverup tactics) -- "..... reading the entire report right down to the interview of Jacqueline Wong-Hernandez, the former employee of St. Hope Academy Charter Schools -- Your jaw will drop, your eyes will pop out of your head. No matter how you try to play this report it looks stinky. Just a for instance: Michelle Rhee was listed as a board member of St. Hope. Simultaneously she was listed as: the consultant for the New Teacher Project, the consultant for the reconstruction bridge span, the consultant for the reconstruction of the HR department, while on another memo she was listed as the COO. In yet another letter she was listed as the President and Johnson as the CEO. So many hats for one person and absolutely no conflict of interest, is there, in being both a board member and a consultant for the very board of which you are a member. Sarcasm in that last sentence. The discrepencies are legion in this report. Just read the summary of charges.... -- view source (scroll down) -- http://conductingtheinnerlight.edublogs.org/page/2/

Posted by: honestaction | May 27, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

..... According to these charges (Kevin) Johnson used Americorps money and Americorps volunteers in complete violation of the government contract and volunteer contract. These volunteers are supposed to be used for the community and as tutors for students in schools. According to the report none of the volunteers did a single hour of tuturing for their time at St. Hope. What they did do was wash KJ’s car, clean his place (Johnson told one employee that the Americorps volunteers were there for “grunt work”), worked as clerks in the St. Hope store, canvassed the neighborhoods for candidates for local political offices, used them to solicit funds for St. Hope – even traveling to NYC on the Americorps money to do so. Johnson also misappropriated Americorps funds to pay SHA staff. Here was one of the most incredible things I found in this report: the volunteers, who were on a stipend of around $4000 plus dollars, were charged rent for their housing. The housing was owned by (wait for the drumroll please) The St. Hope Development Corporation – they were charged $300-$350 a month. SHA never revealed to federal authorities their relationship to SHD (you would think, though, that they would change the name of their corporation just a tad so that no one would notice – you know, like Enron). The sex allegations are here, as well. I don’t see how anyone can dismiss them as groundless nor as the accusations of people who hold a political motive. It is obvious throughout this report that there was a culture of abuse. The culture of power that Johnson practiced (one person describes him as micromanaging every thing right down to the position of all the office furniture) is one in which abuse is the predominate factor. Here is what disturbs me after reading this report: Michelle Rhee tried to bring St. Hope Charter schools into our school system to take over some schools. She tried to do this AFTER this report had been filed. It was only due to the due diligence on the part of the parents of those schools that would have been overtaken (deliberate use of word here) and their objection to SHA coming in because of what they found out in their own investigations." --- view source (scroll down) --- http://conductingtheinnerlight.edublogs.org/page/2/

Posted by: honestaction | May 27, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"Is the public turning against teachers'unions?"
________________________
As long as the public is misled about what teachers' unions do, then the answer is "yes."

I continue to read false statements in many of the comments and editorials in the WaPo regarding huge salaries, bloated pensions and benefits for teachers. The funny thing is that a union Negotiated Agreement (Contract) is quite long with salary and benefits taking up very few pages. My current union contract is about 95 pages long. About 4 or 5 pages are devoted to salary and stipends. Same goes for benefits. A number of pages spell out specific leave policies.

The remainder, which is most of the contract, deals with working conditions. Evaluation procedures are spelled out as well as number of minutes given for planning time and how it should be used. How many preps and details about teaching in one's area of education are also detailed. Even things like giving each teacher a desk and a file cabinet are there.

One would think such basic things wouldn't have to be spelled out, but history teaches us that they do. Just like union contracts for miners and factory workers are their to protect them from abuses, teachers' contracts are there for the same reason.

Imagine being fired for getting married or pregnant. Imagine having your evaluation held over your head in exchange for sexual favors. Imagine your principal denying you a day of leave to bury a parent or child. Imagine your principal taking away your classroom and making you teach in a closet. Imagine having hours and hours of work to be done to prepare for instruction only to have your principal take away your planning time to sit in meaningless meetings. The list goes on and on and the fact is that many administrators bully teachers simply because they don't like them or they have a personality conflict with them. Some are just bullies in general.

It would be lovely if these protections weren't needed. You know--administrators will just do the right thing in the absence of teachers' unions. Yeah, right. Just like big oil and investment banks will do the right thing without regulation. Oops! We've seen the result of that recently!

Posted by: musiclady | May 27, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I've never once seen the union protect bad teachers. I have seen corrupt administators protect bad teachers.

Joann Armao - you don't understand education. You really don't.

Posted by: resc | May 27, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

eyendall2,

The teacher's union is pushing for reform. And merit pay is not reform because of the all the problems with standardized testing.

Also is it honest of you to expect teachers to be able to make up for the emotional problems children have? Isn't this a bit dishonest on your part?

Posted by: resc | May 27, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

resc,

You may not have heard of it, but most other teachers have. It happens all the time.

Is it that there are no ineffective teachers?

Posted by: axolotl | May 27, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

given the author of this piece, I'm surprised the title even asks a question.

I expect to see an editorial titled with the conclusion that the public has turned against teachers unions.

so saith the Washington Post

Posted by: efavorite | May 27, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

First, consider the author, as many have pointed out, Armoa has made a reputation for going after teacher unions and on the other hand supporting Rhee's young turk destruction of DC public education.
Here she is using the AFT efforts to address issues to bash the other teacher union NEA and in general paint a bad pictures of unions. Hah

Posted by: zebra22 | May 28, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

I never understood why WaPo was so overtly against WTU, DCPS and public education as a whole. Never quite comprehended all the editorials denegrating teachers and administrators, then blindly hypeing Rhee and "reform." I then came upon some info regarding FOR-PROFIT education and the incredible sums of money these companies are making, while not teaching a damn thing. Read this obviously edited article, especially the speech text. I now understand a little better...

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/higher-education/an-attack-on-for-profit-ed-com.html

Posted by: isupreme | May 28, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

resc,

You may not have heard of it, but most other teachers have. It happens all the time.

Is it that there are no ineffective teachers?
-----
Is it that there are no ineffective parents? Students?

Of course not. That would blow your prejudice all to hell, wouldn't it?

Posted by: nunovyerbizness1 | May 28, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

I wonder when those who are in charge of children for the majority of their time on earth (for the idiots here, that would be the parents) will be held accountable for the results of their efforts. Children are in school for 6 hours daily. The other 18 hours are the responsibility of parents.

Posted by: nunovyerbizness1 | May 28, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

I suppose Unions getting wages and health insurance plans and pension plans for companies like GM - did that hurt or with gov. taxinf them to death, $50 to $65 an hour for an unskilled uneducated worker isn't that what is killing these companies and the ogv. can't even meet their pension plans, eveything is going broke and getting gov. bailouts. So who is going to pay for next years lack of funds and the next...who's going to pay all these new gov. employees wages & benefits? Wait till April 2011 and then the truth is going to hit everyone hard - someone has to pay the bill.

Posted by: frankiescoffey | May 29, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

First...a "union" in one part of the country is not a "union" in another.

As a teacher and former local President in Va, our power is greatly diluted because we do not have collective bargaining; our school boards do not have taxing authority; and Va is a right-to-work state.

People want to blame the teacher because that is generally the person they deal with at the school. How many parents ever have a conversation with the Principal much less the Superintendent?

Teachers are just following instructions; we are the soldiers. Do we blame the soldiers when the battle is lost...or do we blame the Generals for their poor strategy? We don't make the rules, we do as we are told...and if we speak out...our career's are put on hold or worse. And believe me, there is plenty that goes on in the public schools that if the public would only trust teachers, we could fill you in and things would change for the good.

There are some incompetent teachers, but there are more incompetent Principals and other administrators. Those incompetent teachers had 3 years to show their stuff. If, in 3 years, a Principal can't determine a good teacher from one that will not meet the learning expectations of students, then it is the Principal and the HR person that need to be fired.

"Sucking up" is how you get promoted in public education....to all of you education critics, that should tell you something right there.

"Unions" protect the due process rights' of teachers...and believe me...they need protecting. That is what the public doesn't see or understand. The internal survey results of working conditions, that are never made public, is where the administration should be held accountable.

Principal's bully, harrass, intimidate, lie, and abuse teachers. They load teachers they want to get rid of with the worst classes, move teachers around in their last year of teaching and will manipulate evaluations.

Teacher's are the ones in the trenches...as long as this anti-teacher, anti-union rhetoric continues, the changes that need to be made will never occur. It is not teacher's whose "high-paying" jobs are vested in the daily operation of the public schools.

Posted by: ilcn | May 31, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

I'm a thirty-year GM/UAW retiree and I've seen the best and the worst of unions in my time. Unions in general are kind of like what the federal government is to Louisiana right now, i.e. they are easy to be critical of until you need them. From my perspective, the public has been sold this pipe dream that if you could just get rid of the seniority system, and reward teachers on merit, that everything would be fine and dandy in the schools. I'd like to believe that too, but at my age, I've seen during my auto years what the non-union management guys and gals who had no seniority rights were susceptible to in trying to maintain their place in the organization. Certainly, you had outstanding individuals who certainly merited promotions. Just as certainly, you had people who were promoted on the basis of patronage, and on their social connections outside of work and (I'll keep this clean) in more than one situation their sexual prowess. It did happen. I'd bet a lot that if the seniority system was dumped in the schools, a similar thing would happen, and there would be no noticeable increase in the educational attainments of students. Once you mixed young teachers with middle-aged administrators, and had no real basis for keeping and promoting a teacher other than "merit" it would leave a lot of room for all types of discrimination, ranging from patronage to appearance and age, to racial and to sexual. Maybe the seniority system stacks the deck in favor of older teachers and some ne'er-do-wells, but if you go the other direction you're not going to do any better.

Posted by: rtinindiana | June 1, 2010 1:47 AM | Report abuse

Not sure if the public is turning against union.

But the public is turning against the lack of student performance and progress made within our national public school systems.

It's painfully obvious that we are still near the bottom when comparing what international public school systems are producing.

Teachers blame parents and students and parents blame teachers and lack of systemic accountability.

Teachers have unions that are "suppose" to be protecting their rights as employees.

Students don't have unions to protect their rights to receive an effective education.

I'm not speaking on truants or students that have given up or don't appreciate how valuable education is.

To large a percentage of public high school graduates are ill-prepared for post secondary life albeit prepared for college rigor or prepared for career training and that's AFTER multiple billions of dollars are placed toward public education budgets.

Colleges are raising their standards on admission and screening HS student admission applications. The volume of students required to take remedial courses is too terribly high.

Posted by: TwoSons | June 1, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

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