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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TOO
Sanpete, UT

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.

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

We're going to let them tell us how to tear our society apart, one brick at a time.

EJM
Herriman, UT

@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.

Midwest Mom
Soldiers Grove, WI

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?

Midwest Mom
Soldiers Grove, WI

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.

Truthseeker
SLO, CA

re:BleedsBlue

I 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.

Fred44
Salt Lake City, Utah

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.

GD
Syracuse, UT

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.

Monsieur le prof
Sandy, UT

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.

dyc
Vernal, UT

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.

MyChildrensKeeper
Taylorsville, UT

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.

Midwest Mom
Soldiers Grove, WI

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.

EJM
Herriman, UT

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.

Liberal Ted
Salt Lake City, UT

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.

Jeff
Temple City, CA

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.

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