Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Don't Blame The Unions

I just finished reading this bullshit piece by Alexander Nazaryan and once again, I say thank goodness this guy and the editors of the Daily News who published it are no where around or I would be seeing the inside of a jail cell.

I don't think anyone can deny that there are some bad teachers out there, just like there are bad doctors, nurses, plumbers, sales clerks, etc.  But, the fact that these people have kept their jobs has nothing to do with union protection and has everything to do with the administrators highered to keep their schools moving ahead successfully.  If a principal is only seeing what the teacher is doing during formal observations, that principal is not doing his job.  The principal of Packemin, much to the annoyance of many teachers (no one likes Big Brother constantly looking in on them even when they are doing nothing wrong) , roams the halls on a daily basis, peering into classrooms constantly and he knows who is doing their job and who isn't.  He knows which teachers are prepared.  He knows about kids being locked in closets and he knows which teachers have no knowledge of the subject being taught.  And, in spite of what Nazaryan says, good administrators can get rid of incompetent staff.  It takes work, but it can be done.  I've seen it done at Packemin HS under the auspices of four different principals and in my former school, the math AP also weeded out the ones who weren't very good.

Unions are now being blamed for all the ills of society, probably because many of these ills can't be fixed.  Unions, and especially teachers right now are being scapegoated.

Nazaryan insults the female union leaders, saying they could play for the Giants (this has absolutely nothing to do with what he is writing about) and insults his former principal because she happens to be Caribbean.  He thinks working in an all Black or Hispanic school gives teachers the ability to sit and do nothing but I disagreee.  I taught in one of those schools with some of the best and most competent people around, all who have gone on to bigger and better things (still working in education) when the school was broken up.  Back in the '80s, it was not the teachers who caused the schools to be disfunctional, it was some of the children, the ones who snuck guns into the building and started fires during drills.  Many of the students were top rate.  I went to a 30th reunion from this school and met former students who are now doctors, lawyers and Phds.  The teachers were given choices of where they wanted to go because everyone knew the teachers were fantastic.

Union protections is a necessity.  Principals today often have no knowledge of what goes on in the school.  A 28 year old leadership academy graduate does not have the ability to know who is good and who isn't.  The recertified ISS AP who knows nothing about special education students and little about anything else should not be in a position to have life and death decisions over a career. The math AP, who believes he is still living in a Communist regime and wants little marching soldiers, teachers who show no individual initiative, and favors only young teachers of his own race should have no position of power.

This opinion editorial is another example of union bashing.  The edtiors need to go back and reread history to see the importance and necessity of unions for everyone's protection.  This article makes me happy I dropped my Daily News subscription years ago.


Anonymous said...

Don't unions share some of the blame for their over zealous protections of really bad teachers? Protections that created NY's "rubber rooms". Unions can and should help good teachers but their public face comes from protecting REALLY BAD teachers.

Pissed Off said...

The purpose of unions is to protect their members. If there is proper documentation, admins should be able to get rid of bad ones.

Would you say lawyers are bad for representing guilty people?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous:

Unions DO NOT protect bad teachers. Principals do! I must reiterate that "principals should PROTECT GOOD TEACHERS AND STRENGTHEN THE SKILLS FOR NEWER TEACHERS TO MAKE THEM BETTER.

Principals have the power and control to document, train and build on teachers experiences in the class. A GOOD PRINCIPAL WILL MAKE SURE:
a) teachers are receiving proper training and coaching for their grade level.
b) provide memos (and not ridiculous ones like Mr. AP) that contain productive, useful and clear for all of the staff. After all, teachers need to make sure that instructions and directions are clear for their students, so why can't principals make directions and routines clear and concise too?
c) be organized and structured so all staff know what they are doing (I happen to know 1 tough but fair and PHENOMENAL principal who is retiring next year..so yes, there really are some of these principals around. She is 1 tough principal but I am SO SAD to hear she will be retiring.)

If a teacher was not up to par, then the principal would use his/her best judgment on the next steps to 'remove that teacher' (and I sure hope it would be done professionally and respectfully). Union officials have no idea who the 'bad teachers' are. Most of the time, unions get the 'terminated bad teacher' documents AFTER the fact.

Also, Anonymous, don't private sector employees have HR officials who handle employee labor disputes as well as ineffective employees? Who keeps the private sector 'bad employees', HR or their bosses?