Comments about ‘Support for teachers unions at an all-time low’

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Published: Wednesday, June 13 2012 9:30 a.m. MDT

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ouisc
Farmington, UT

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.

Still Blue after all these years
Kaysville, UT

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.

azamatbagatov
Lehi, UT

Still Blue,

How would merit pay work in your opinion? Also, are you saying principals should be drawn from outside the education profession? Why?

Juan Figuroa
Seattle, WA

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.

Juan Figuroa
Seattle, WA

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.

Oatmeal
Woods Cross, UT

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 fired
3. Handle grants from public and private entities (often totaling into the millions)
4. Handle a school budget of millions
5. Implement new programs (fed, state and local)
6. Criminal law/psychology/social work in dealing with minors
7. PR
8. Able to deal with 2-3 sets (minimum) of mad parents a day, some of these are abusive to their child or mentally ill
9. Work from 6 am 'til LATE...
10. Attend (as much as possible) over 500+ individual activities held at a 5A high school
11. Love troubled children

What in Tucket?
Provo, UT

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 vouchers.

Oatmeal
Woods Cross, UT

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?

non believer
PARK CITY, UT

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!

John20000
Cedar Hills, UT

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 unions.

screenname
Salt Lake City, UT

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.

CHS 85
Sandy, UT

@Counter Intelligence

So 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.

DVD
Taylorsville, 00

@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?

Truthseeker
SLO, CA

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.

azamatbagatov
Lehi, UT

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.

IDC
Boise, ID

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.

squirt
Taylorsville, ut

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 ignorance.

Oatmeal
Woods Cross, UT

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 public school.

BleedsBlue
Salt Lake City, UT

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.

Orem Parent
Orem, UT

There is NO tenure in Utah!!!!

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