There is much talk these days about what is happening in several states about striping teacher unions of their collective bargaining rights. The balance of power between labor and management is a volatile one each side feels the other is taking too much. All states are now facing budget problems states do not produce anything they take and distribute they cannot crank up production to give more they can only take more but there is no more to take. On average 90% of each state’s budget is spent on three things: Education, Medication and Incarceration. They won’t cut medication because that would make them seem heartless and they won’t attack incarceration because that would make them look soft on crime, also both of those programs have many and very strong voters. So they attack education. This is principally the fault of the teachers unions. They have always thought of themselves as invincible and as such have done a very poor job of PR.
Their saying has always been, “It’s for the kids.” now for so many that saying rings hollow. It seems that every voting cycle there is a tax on the ballot for the schools yet test scores are dropping, the number of those going on to college is dropping, school violence is rising - yes by most accounts our schools are failing. True, the percentage of “bad” teachers is below the average of any public industry but the only news we get is from those bad ones. The unions have not spent the energy to publicize the successes.
The education field is hurt because they have taken on the job of parenting, a job they are not equipped for and will always fail at. A village cannot raise a child. At one teachers meeting, I was at, the principal told us we need to find more ways to get the parents involved. My question was, “Why would we want to do that”? No one had an answer. The last thing any teacher wants is being kibitzed by a parent because they do not care about your classroom they only care about their child. As one parent told/demanded of me was that her child needed more individual attention and it was useless to tell her that I have a 40 min class with 30 kids so he will just have to wait his turn to get more than his one minute. I am sure the reason this edict came down for on high was to improve public relations but they did not have the mental tools to complete this program – we are teachers not sales and marketing people.
Also schools are now all teaching to the test. Overall test score are linked to federal dollars. Teachers are no longer given the freedom to follow a train of inquiry. The new merit pay program for teachers will be linked to test results. Schools will become more and more like Dilbert factories that put out defective product.
The attack on unions will not improve education only save money. Lower salaries will not attract quality people but attract more like the one I knew who said, “I only teach to get money for my clothing budget.”