Teachers' Unions are hardly the obstacle to reform that they're
accused of being.Any professional educator (especially educational
historians) knows that so-called educational reform is more often than not a
rehash of something that was attempted before and has been proven to work no
better than what we currently have.The real truth of educational
reform is that to be truly effective it would be VERY expensive. True reform of
education would cost something like ten times what we currently spend. In this
country we have been trying to do it on the cheap for years, so we get
union-bashing, vouchers, cries for merit pay, blaming teachers and
administrators, and so on ad nauseum.Teachers' unions are a
necessary evil in a broken system for which the public does not have (and never
has had) the will to fix.
One thing democrats and unions can't explain, is how the theory of throwing
more money to salary increases a students ability to learn. When democrats
preach that people work for recognition, titles, legacys etc. and not for pay.
Because pay doesn't bring satisfaction to the work being performed.So instead of finding ways to milk the taxpayer and give unions more
money. Let's look at why teachers are ineffective and unable to teach
students. Having gone through public school, I know it didn't help when my
teacher was hungover everyday and put in a video so she can turn off the lights
put on her sunglasses and fall asleep on her desk. In my opinion the schools
need to let those types of employees go.Second, it did not help my
learning when kids who are disruptive and had zero interest in the class; and
the teacher was not allowed to do anything about it. We need a better system to
get relocate these "special" kids. I found taking AP classes was the
best option and had fewer problem children.Third allow children to
move up based on abilities and not by age.
Once again posters want to complain, which we all get do, myself included, but
when they are asked to be specific as to their own recommendations as to what
changes they would make they rarely post. In Utah, and let's keep this here
in Utah, the teacher "associations" represent the majority of teachers.
Yes they fight for greater wages/benefits for their members. They also are
willing to work with all parties to make certain that changes in the profession
are made with improving the education of all students. Perfect? No. But then
again the only institution that tries,to project themselves as all knowing is
the same institution that refuses term limits and ethics reforms while trying to
sneak thru laws that would restrict the public's right to know. Oh, and sad
to say, we keep voting them in. Go figure.
dyc is happy to tolerate unions, but not interested in joining. However, I
doubt that she rejects the wage and benefit improvements that are negotiated on
her behalf, by those who do the work and pay their dues.
I agree with keeping unions, special interest foreign nationals, ACLU, NAACP,
UEA, NEA, Feds, and PTA organization out of education and our schools and that
parents and teachers (not PTA) are underutilized resources of improving
eduction. Education is the responsibility of states and its citizens, not
federal government or any organized specail interest group.But
unions itself is a right of labor, and should be allowed to negotiate as
representatives to benefit the thousands of members on labor rights and wages
rather than thousands of employees hiring thousands of lawyers to negotiate
contracts and wages on an individual basis. Teachers and every worker in Utah
has a right to negotiate wages, health care and job benefits with any employer,
government or private. What unions do with their funds is also a right of
workers approval.What most condemn unions for are based on the dead
unions of 60 years ago. Unions create jobs, education, craftsmen, prosperity and
promote economic growth, but common Utah citizens don't get it. We
willfully labor and work to live in poverty like a good socialized slave should
while the wealthy live in extravagant prosperity because you choose to be poor.
I'm saddened by how much misinformation is accepted as truth regarding
education. Utah is a "Right to Work" state. That basically means
educators can decide whether or not they want to join the union. I believe that
is fair. As an educator, I have chosen not to join the union for a variety of
reasons, but I respect many of the educators I know who are active in the union.
As for tenure, it doesn't really exist in Utah. Schools do not have to
follow last hired, first fired. Also, both teachers and administrators are
evaluated on a yearly basis. That is also the law. Plus, with SB 64, in the
future, up to 15% of our pay will be based upon our summative evaluations, and
those evaluations will be partially based upon parent and community input and
test scores. I hope those in the community who are unhappy with
their local school will get involved. Become a member of the community council,
or volunteer in your child's school. Schools are only as good as the
support they get from the community.
The teacher unions in Utah are pussy cats. There hasn't been a teacher
strike in decades, even when there should have been. The accusations that they
somehow are undermining education and stopping progress are foolish and
unsubstantiated. The unions are staffed by decent people who want to protect
the rights and salaries of teachers. They try to negotiate contracts so that
male teachers can support a family, but have been unable to do so for many
years.I wish more people would visit the classroom and see what
teachers do. Or better yet, teach for a week or a term. Maybe then you would see
why teachers need unions to protect the few benefits they receive.
When I started teaching the IEA was considered a professional organization. The
word union was never used. Even though salaries were often an issue they were
not the main issue. By the middle to late 70's the word union was used
frequently and the focus seemed to change. I have always been somewhat opposed
to unions. They force a way of thinking on the teachers which isn't always
good. On the other hand you get administrators who think they have all the
answers and in some cases teachers have little say. That is just as harmful.
So maybe it is a catch 22. As far as merit pay I think it would be okay
if you had a fair way to administer it. Administrators have little time to
visit classrooms and when they do many teachers put on a show for the thirty or
so minutes. Peers let biases get in the way. You can't judge a teacher by
test scores. Maybe industry can use merit pay as but a teacher is much
different than someone working on an assembly line.
Teachers unions have become the whipping boy for the republican party. The
"problems" with education are not generated by the teacher unions, there
generated by the constant interference and micromanagement from state and
federal legislators as well as governors and the President. Teaching is the only profession where the professionals have no voice in how
to do their job. Everyone know better than teachers how to educate our
children. Maybe we could try something new, how about we involve teachers in
the educational process. Senator Osmond took what was considered a
"brave" step by going out and listening to teachers before he drafted
legislation affecting the way a teacher does their job. This was a historic
moment in the state of Utah, the first time teachers have been invited to the
table. Think about how stupid that sounds. Would we make decisions about how
to perform surgery without inviting doctors? Would we decide how to build roads
in Utah with involving UDOT? Oh and by the way who was at the table
representing teachers, the union! In case you haven't read SB 65 it is now
easier to fire ineffective teachers, who agreed to that the union.
re:BleedsBlueI appreciate the information you provided and your
viewpoint. My children did not attend school in Utah, but I did, many years
ago. I'm sure there are some variations from state-to-state. I'm sure
almost every parent would say they know at least one teacher who needed to be
terminated. Question:Do you know of low-performing teachers
who continue to teach? If so, how do you account for their continued employment
as teachers? How many teachers do you know who've lost their
teaching positions due to lack of performance? If yes, how long and
involved was the process for termination? Is feedback from parents
included or considered in evaluations? Does your evaluation include
regular, unplanned observational visits to the classroom by administrators?There is an interesting report, "Ringing the Bell for k-12 Teacher
Tenure Reform,"which shows that UT, and many other states have a low
rate of teacher dismissal, 2.9% and the rate for tenured teachers is .2% Of
course, those figures alone don't actually say anything about quality.
Perhaps some states have less stringent hiring practices and therefore they have
a higher termination rate etc.
Please click on the link to this study. "Paul E, Peterson is the Henry Lee
Shattuck Professor of Government and Director of the Program on Education Policy
and Governance at Harvard University, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution
at Stanford University, and Editor-In-Chief of Education Next, a journal of
opinion and research," or so says his web site. But Mr. Peterson's
training is in political science, not education. He has been influential in the
last several presidential education policies. His goal is virtual learning. As
he has said, you don't need a lot of good teachers, you only need a few to
provide distance learning to a lot of kids. Then, the schools can save money by
hiring lower-skilled babysitters to give individual homework help. This is why
the likes of Bill Gates are so supportive. Every kid in America in front of a
computer screen with endless possibilities for selling software upgrades. Big
business bad policy.
Support for the teaching profession is declining. Public sector pensions, and
other benefits, are being cut. All the more reason for preserving collective
bargaining rights for teachers and other public employees. Here in Wisconsin,
all teachers are now "at will" employees. A school board, or
administrator with an axe to grind; an angry parent with significant clout in
the community; any teacher can be fired for any reason, no matter what their
work record. What benefit is it to our children if their teachers are beholden
to only the most powerful in the district? Our son is leaving Wisconsin because
his school has offered him next year's contract, without a stated salary.
Probably the same as before, but they reserve the right to cut. If he signs,
he'll have to pay the district $3K, in the event that mid-contract cuts
make working in the district unsustainable. Public sector unions help stabilize
the workplace. Without collective bargaining, my son's district has lost
his entire department. They've all quit. Public education is being
destroyed. Are you paying attention?
@IDC: as a teacher I would enjoy reading your approach/guidelines as to how to
figure out which teachers are good and which ones are not. Please share with us.
Thank you sir.
We're going to let them tell us how to tear our society apart, one brick at
The fact that "educators" are so protected is ridiculous. I
have had lots of teachers in high school and now in college that I didn't
learn a thing, yet I still had to pay. I had a teacher where we played
Scrabble. Another we watched movies. I have already paid tens of thousands of
dollars on education and am planning on paying tens or hundreds of thousands
more. If a teacher is not TEACHING, fire him/her. I don't care if they are
30 years or 5 years away from retirement. Get rid of them. It's because
of so many poor teachers that America is becoming more ignorant everyday. The
following generations are absolutely being destroyed when it comes to important
things. All they care about is cell phones, big trucks, and video games.
Education and knowledge do not get as much honor as they used to.
There is NO tenure in Utah!!!!
Truthseeker:"Teachers should have to be re-evaluated and apply for
tenure on an ongoing basis." The truth is, I have been a public
school teacher in the state of Utah for 30 years and my job has always been
contingent on my performance as evaluated by my superiors. There is a very
specific process in place to fairly and regularly evaluate teacher performance
in my district that uses a comprehensive, carefully normed and nationally
accepted measurement tool. If I do not meet a certain standard, I will be given
an opportunity to improve. If I do not improve within a fairly short time frame,
I am subject to termination. I do not understand why people outside of the
public school system have the idea that teachers have tenure regardless of their
performance. That is just not true.
screenname:Two items I left off on duties was salary (CEO
responsibilities for middle-manager salary) and the fact that you can't
sell your business and take a loss. What percentage of businesses fail? Why
should we entrust schools to a group as incompetent as the business community?
On the second post, I'm afraid you don't get it.
Salespeople don't have to deal with the exact same set of clients. If
their current clients don't buy, they go out and find new ones. Teachers
can't give up on any individuals. They are evaluated on the children they
are given. Unlike the business world teachers can't fire their students if
they under-perform. And there are light years of difference between teens and
adults. Adults get arrested for behavior that is forgiven with teens. Adults
don't have a right to attend their jobs. Children have a right to attend
WOW, the comments in the blog are based in myths not truths. First of all,
let's talk about Senate Bill 64 last legislative session. Developed WITH
UEA at the table. This bill ties teacher advancement in salary to a successful
evaluation. For the millionth time, we do not have tenure in Utah.Please do the research. UEA is leading the way in teacher accountability. UEA
is not afraid to advocate for a valid and reliable evaluation tool tied to
salaries-SB 64 definitive proof positive that they are not obstacles to reform!
Those previous posts filled with the anti-union rhetoric are mostly filled with
Get rid of tenure and fire the bad/lazy teachers. Reward teachers
who are talented and work hard.Which teachers make up the bottom 10%
would be easy to figure out.
Juan,You didn't answer the question either. You didn't
say how you would work the merit pay system.Also, you say that
public education is patently ridiculous. Please give a specific example. In
the same breath, you say that schools should be like libraries, go or don't
go. I'm sure that will make for a much better society. Finally, you say that public schools are going the way of the dodo, yet
enrollment numbers keep rising. Don't see how serving more students is
making them extinct. That must be home school math you are using.
It appears teachers and education are under attack from Republicans. Generally speaking, we do a fairly decent job in this country educating the
middle and upper middle class. We are failing miserably in areas of low income
and high poverty rates. Utah has a very homogenous population and should have a
good educational system. The tenure system needs to be changed. No
teacher should get tenure for life. Teachers should have to be re-evaluated and
re-apply for tenure on an ongoing basis. Additionally, it shouldn't
automatically be last hired, first fired when staffing cuts are made.
Everything being equal, seniority should carry weight, but if a long term
teacher isn't performing adequately they shouldn't retain their job
over a newer, more competent teacher. Teaching is one of the most
important professions in society. We should raise the bar, attract the best to
the teaching profession and compensate them appropriately, giving them the tools
and resources they need to help those they teach.
@John20000: That's the nail hit on the head. But it runs across all
businesses, not just schools. If we could count on ethical management and
leadership that didn't abuse people, the need for unions to defend the less
powerful would dwindle. But when the union is set up in a way that itself
brings a corrupting environment to its own leadership, then once again the less
powerful groups of people have lost. They can have corrupt management abusing
them, or a corrupt union doing other undesirable things that negatively affect
the members. Lose-lose until something fundamental is changed?
@Counter IntelligenceSo public employees are not entitled to free
speech and free association? If they pay their dues on income earned from work,
why is that any of your business?Do you now get to tell public
employees they can spend X number of dollars on housing, they can have X number
of children, they can be friends with who you choose? Do you get to tell public
employees who they can donate money to, etc? Where does it end? As
far as teachers not being able to be fired (since that is what most people on
the forum want to do to all teachers and other public employees) you are dead
wrong. Before your rants about it go on, I suggest you take a look at employee
policies at the various districts. If Administrators (Management) are afraid or
too lazy to follow prescribed and approved procedures, why is that the
Teacher's (labor) fault? Good leaders will use the tools they are provided
to move an organization forward.
Oatmeal,Your list of duties for a school administrator sounds very
similar to the list of duties for any business manager, plus a few unique to
education (just like any other industry would have unique duties). The only
advantage I can see to principals coming from within the ranks is that they
would better understand the teachers they manage.As for your most
recent comment, there are plenty of jobs that are merit-based that are also
based on how other people perform. Salespeople, for example. Any manager who
is measured on how their employees perform would be in the exact same position
as a teacher. Any anyone who has managed before knows that there is often not
much difference in maturity between a group of adults and a group of teenagers.
Unions are the results of ethically bad management. If I had to deal with
public school administration as a teacher, I would want a union. If we really
want better schools, its not the teachers we should be focusing on, its
administration. Fix the administration and there won't be any need for
I guess my question or comment would be, how are Unions helping teachers? They
are one of the lowest paid professions, so I am wondering how they are making
teachers lives better? I would have thought that the Unions would have increased
their pay and perks. Just curious!
Juan Figuroa,Those professions are easily measured by what they
actually do. Teachers can only be measured by how other people (their students)
perform. No nurse or MD would allow a rock band to play in an ICU.
Most professions carefully control their creative/work process and environment
so they get the best results possible. We can't do that in public
education. We can't control the quality of our raw materials (incoming
students). We can't control the environment or educational experience to
that degree. We don't control their after-school home life. I KNOW how to
make education work better. It isn't better teachers, it is motivated
parents. Take away the parental tax exemption for every student who
fails to pass their classes and end-of-year exams. Give greater tax exemptions
for successful students who pass honors and AP classes. Resource students would
have standards fitted to their capabilities. Parents will demand better teachers
who can work with various types of students. If home schooling works for some,
fine. If other plans work, fine. But measure the students and make the parents
responsible to find the best teachers. Radical idea?
We love our teachers, but not their unions. We need better education for our
youth. In the Netherlands there are no more public schools. All go with
azamatbagatov,My suspicion is that "Still Blue" believes
that someone with a business background knows how to lead better than someone
with an educational background. I know many with this perception.May I suggest what I have observed (as a high school teacher and a parent)
what high school administrators are required to know and handle? 1.
As curriculum/teacher leader, a principal must motivate and control 70-100
quirky, talented teachers (most of whom are very intelligent... a few are dumber
than a sack of rocks), dealing with personality conflicts, motivation (teacher
pay!)and employee issues.2. Educational law: ignorance gets you sued and
fired3. Handle grants from public and private entities (often totaling
into the millions)4. Handle a school budget of millions5. Implement
new programs (fed, state and local)6. Criminal law/psychology/social work
in dealing with minors7. PR8. Able to deal with 2-3 sets (minimum)
of mad parents a day, some of these are abusive to their child or mentally
ill9. Work from 6 am 'til LATE... 10. Attend (as much as
possible) over 500+ individual activities held at a 5A high school11. Love
Azmat:Merit pay is a given in every industry on this earth -- except
teaching. Nurses, cops, engineers, doctors, salesmen, writers,
actors, musicians...not one of 'em continues to collect a paycheck when
they're incompetent. Teachers alone get paid regardless of their ability to
do the job. Thank you, teachers' unions.
Those of us who homeschool our children know that public education is patently
ridiculous. Some day schools will operate like libraries: Go, or don't.
Learn, or do something different but equally useful. Schools will be
competitive, or lose funding. There's little reason to have
federal government sniffing around education at all. State government
involvement is barely justified. If communities and parent groups
want to set up schools, educational co-ops, video lectures, or tutoring rooms in
libraries, that's a viable path to education. There are lots of creative
and effective ways to teach -- and to teach not just children. Public education,
where it exists, should be available to ANYONE who wants to learn -- just as
public libraries are. The brick-and-mortar public school system is going the way
of the dodo. That's good. Because it's inefficient and expensive, and
the payoff is miniscule.
Still Blue,How would merit pay work in your opinion? Also, are you
saying principals should be drawn from outside the education profession? Why?
The ONLY way to improve public education begins with the breaking of teacher
unions. They are a roadblock to everything. The next step would be ot
implement merit pay, rather than pay based on experience and education. The
last step would be to all non-educators to be principals and then demand they
truly lead and manage their schools with education being the primary goal.
Quantitative data is needed to prove that. But we cannot even begin as long as
teacher unions are in effect.
The most effective influence on education has come from teacher and parent
movements within a school district. Teacher unions tend to orchestrate ideas
that are developed for profit by profit-interested companies. The ingenuity of
our teachers and parents is much more effective than national profit-generating
ideas teacher unions propogate.