Saturday, September 15, 2012

Unions Help Everyone


Let's face it.  The union's job is to protect its members.  That is the reason we fork over those big bucks paycheck after paycheck.  But, union protection is something teachers need to be able to help their students and do what is best for them.

First and foremost, while most outsiders like to forget, TEACHERS ARE PEOPLE!!!  They want the same things out of life that everyone else want:  decent homes, nice clothes, occasional meals out, vacations, etc, Teachers are parents, people who need to earn a good living to provide for their own children.  How can teachers be expected to take care of others when their own families aren't being taken care of?

Secondly, and probably most important to the general public, people who don't care that teachers are people, is that teachers can't do their jobs right without some sort of protection.  And, here is where I will make this post personal.

Being on the front line I often saw things about my students that the people in charge did not.  For example, there was an incoming ninth grader who did not score well on her placement exam.  She was relegated to a remedial class.  I quickly realized she did not belong there.  When my assistant principal refused to move her, I went behind his back, convinced another teacher and a guidance counselor to change her program.  (She went on to successfully complete AP calculus.)  Without job protection, no one would have helped this girl.  If my supervisor had found out what we did, and had the power, our jobs might have been in jeopardy.  Another term, I was told to fail a student because of his attendance.  Unfortunately, the young man's father was dying at the time and was under a lot of stress.  The AP let me pass the boy, after a fight, but told me he would hold me accountable for the regents grade in the next class.  While I had faith in what the boy knew, I had no clue as to what the next term would hold but agreed.  I knew there was not a thing he could do to me if the boy didn't succeed.

Everyone should be entitled to due process before losing a job.  The union's job is to guarantee this happens.  It is the job of the supervisor to offer proof of incompetence, not the unions.

I walked the picket line in the 70's, lost 2 days pay for every day I was out.  I missed many days of school during the '68 strike.  I know the strikes helped me and  helped future generations of teachers and it helped students.  The gains we got kept quality teachers in the classroom and encouraged others to join the profession.  Kudos to the Chicago teachers.  Their sacrifice is for the children as well as for themselves.

1 comment:

Mr. Bufford said...

I recently worked at a school upper manhattan, as a sub, that became permanent (still working on certification..long story short) and I ended up on the wrong end of your experience.
I came into a situation where the kids hadn't had a steady ELA, Global History, or Living environment teacher and the school deployed long term subs like me. I'm grateful they didn't choose an atr as much as I'm angry they hadn't.
I eventually had a full schedule which included some issues. One particularly was that my 5th period class had 44 kids. Yep, two bubble sheets. Didn't know at the time it' was supposed to be ICT/CTT, as there was on MEE. But I forged on lobbying for help and eventually a ATR was hired to assume part of the class and I stayed on as the SpEd person. Unfortunately, she was a little off. Plus, that meant 44 kids in a room.
Long story short again, I devised a plan to split the kids up (with the aid of the payroll secretary, atr, ap of security and special Ed coordinator.) The rotation was great until the AP Of curriculum finally read the memo 1.5 months into. Nor would she help us with how to manage that large class with none of the resources the other teachers had. We were still an atr and sub in her eyes, thus we lacked the tech, supplies, everything.
Countless emails disregarded and request ignored on her part. As such I couldn't morally and ethically put my kids back into that abysmal situation. Some of their Ieps suggested inclusion but directly stated class size. On a special occasion of rejoining, I watched a 16 yr old boy cry because he couldn't deal with the situation.
My original cabal said split until ms. Ap decided she had enough of me. I moved onto a great school that does common planning and teacher support right. Except I can't be added to the roster.
Ms. AP Has now u rated me. Twice. I can't work as a sub or ft as ELA/global history or in sped where my licenses fall. ( I had taken tests but needed a few more classes for requirements. I m not a teaching fellow or tfa, I originally taught in catholic school which has lax hiring requirements for teachers. This digression is to the point, I'm not a novice teacher. Just that living, teaching and going to school in nyc is finically demanding. There was a time I even needed food stamps to survive.)
I'm a dedicated, committed educator. As a sub, I came in with emergency lessons planned or devised what I needed at my arrival and during my prep.). And as a teacher, my sat prep kids did great, and I can honestly see kids engage learning.
I've got a grievance filed but ms. Ap will not even provide a rating sheet (which I never received) or documentation to support the rating she gave me. She not answered formal requests from me or the Uft. She won't meet with me or the chapter leader in regards to these files. When my grievance is giving a date, I won't be able to properly defend or rebut her remarks.
This is a case for more unionized support for unions. If it weren't for the union, I'd completely abandon my dream of teaching, instead of watch it flicker like the end of of a candle,
-Chester Kent