Friday, January 14, 2011


I am not a member of a teachers' union and have no intention of joining one. I paid my dues for years to watch my precious little pay slowly decrease. When I became a teacher, my state was ranked 38th out of 50 in teacher pay. Not bad. However, after ten years, our state had dropped in rank to become 49th out of 50. That's awful.

I began email communications with our new union President, a woman whose name shall remain anonymous. I wrote to her specifically regarding our abysmal pay rate. After many emails, it finally came out: pay increases were not her biggest objective. Her pet projects were site-based management and professional development.

Site-based management means that a teacher can be on a committee that "runs the school." What a crock of malarkey. Any principal who so chooses can ignore the recommendations of any teacher committee. It's a bag full of air, an empty promise, and even if it wasn't, if I wanted to run a school, I would have obtained my administrative license and become a principal. I don't want to run the school; I choose to be in the classroom. I believe that teaching is one of the few professions in which you start at the top and work your way down to the bottom.

Professional development is a cutesy word that refers to pitifully boring meetings that allegedly enrich your teaching abilities. How could any meeting help a teacher? I would never want to oversee or run such a meeting. What could I say or do in such an environment that would really impact teachers and the manner in which they provide instruction? There isn't a whole lot.

I emailed our new union President that I believed she was heading the union in the wrong direction. She disagreed, and after quite a few written debates, our email communication stopped abruptly. I quickly dropped out of the union and sent her an email explaining why I disagreed with the union's emphasis and direction and made sure she understood that money and the union's direction were the motivating factors.

Money is no longer an issue. A new Governor of our state promptly raised teacher pay, and my pay started to climb substantially after his first term. Despite my finances being much better off, I still consider union dues money spent wastefully. Our union is cantankerous in meetings with administration, doesn't speak the truth, doesn't want the truth spoken, and is a mamby-pamby political tool of the liberal politicians it endorses and the lousy teachers it protects.

There are two large teacher unions in this country, and I don't want to have a part of either. Most teachers in my state agree. Most teachers have their noses to the grindstone, concentrate on the classroom and the students they encounter, and have no time or inclination to ponder the bull noodles coughed up in the political arena. We just wish that lawmakers and lawyers would stay our of our way and let us teach.

Teachers' biggest complaint is that we now spend far too much time gathering data, and on occasion even having to input it into computer programs. We are slowly becoming data operators. This data is tests scores, and that is where huge amounts of money are being spent by school districts. Trust me, they won't cut that expense when they reduce the schools' budget. It should be noted that the data is mandated by No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

My complaints about teachers' unions run deep. The last president of the local teachers' union "went to the Dark Side" and had a highly paid position with the school district as a coordinator and an interfacer. Everyone knows our present president is headed for the same high paid position upon her retirement. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

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