Union Busting

High transient population. High poverty. High number of second language students.

Yep, must be the teachers’ fault.

But let’s call it what it is: union busting. As one Washington Post editorial writer said:

It’s no wonder that Education Secretary Arne Duncan applauded the move, saying the committee members were “showing courage and doing the right thing for kids.”

Courage, indeed.

Now, all they have to do is find 93 excellent professionals to take their places. Recruiting the best educators should be easy, especially when you can offer them life in a very poor town and a job with no security.

And, of course, the powers that be will have to ignore all the other influences on high school students because their poor performance was all about the adults at the high school.

Their elementary and middle school education — or lack thereof? Not a problem.

Their sometimes difficult home lives? Naw. That doesn’t affect how a kid does at school.

No Child Left Behind, a federal education law that has driven schools to drastically narrow curriculum and use rudimentary standardized tests to measure how well kids are doing? Nope. Not an issue, nor is the fact that Duncan is largely continuing the NCLB practices that have been shown to be a failure.

The Daily Kos commented on the Rhode Island story with this:

[A] policy that encourages school boards to fire everyone or lose federal funding is as lazy and incompetent as any of the teachers John Stossell and the voucher supporters trumpet (with nearly slanderous abandon) as indicative of all public school teachers.When you sweep out all teachers, including the ones who have given their all and who have succeeded with countless children, you are not improving schools, you are hastening the destruction of public education.

A great summation by The Daily Kos, but how disheartening to hear the nation’s leader of education support a measure with no history of success, practices shown by decades of research to be unsuccessful, and policies that undermine the the very systems he wishes to see improve. I was excited to hear what he had to say at last year’s NEA Representative Assembly. This year I’m excited to hear the reactions if he does show up.

The current administration of “hope” has left me with little.

7 thoughts on “Union Busting

  1. aphillieteacher

    I posted this article in my blog too. This story hits particularly close to home because Philadelphia may be doing the same thing this year. Whenever a school shows consistently poor test grades and high violence statistics among other things, they can be turned into a “Renaissance” school.

    The rules are the same: the principal and all teachers are fired. Anyone wanting to continue at the school must reapply for his/her old position and only 50% may be brought back.

    We already have high turnover in our district (poor, urban) so maybe faculty change isn’t the solution. So let’s look at the problem from the top down: if a superintendent and his/her minions can’t improve things in the district, why shouldn’t they be the ones who are fired?

  2. Amber

    I was torn on this article. They are turning a middle school in our district into a charter school next year and the union is up in arms. Having been hired and bounced from school to school I have seen a ton of really crappy teachers and difficult kids. I don’t know what programs or solutions can start to reform schools for the benefit of the staff and students. It seems like such an overwhelming task to overhaul the system. I do not think it is the teachers’ fault that kids are not succeeding. It seems that teachers always take the blame though. I have finally been placed for the last two months with middle school kids who have had months of subs. The kids have really bad attitudes and do not want to do any work. I am doing the best I can, but two months in, with insomnia and migraines, I am burnt out. When I send kids out, so that the rest of the class can focus, the admin just sends them back. The only consequence is detention. The kids are rarely suspended or punished beyond that. My principal came in the other day (the second time in two months) and said that if the lessons were more engaging the kids would be behaving better. I have had really great lessons some days, but other days are catch up days, or easy days. I feel like I am babysitting. I have been at a few schools where the admin and teachers seem to work well together and there are rarely discipline problems, but at my school it feels so disconnected on so many levels. Some of the proposals include increasing the hours in the school day without extra pay, which none of the teachers at our school are on board with. I wish I had a better idea of the bureaucracy before getting into the education field.

  3. drpezz Post author

    I think you are actually proving my stance, which is that the system, the leadership, and the communities in which schools lie have more effect than the teachers in many instances; however, the easy scapegoat is the teacher. It’s a business model where the common worker is taken to task despite the reasons why the worker performs in a specified manner.

    I do not believe unions are perfect, but without them management can (almost) literally do anything it wants to the workers. Teachers in this case are the ones exploited.

    Good luck, but I do advise understanding what would be expected of you–and for how much–before allowing a charter school into your system, especially at the expense of a current school.

    1. aphillieteacher

      Once all the teachers have been fired we can move on to blaming the janitors, cafeteria workers and crossing guards.

      Certainly it couldn’t be the fault of students who don’t do homework or even show up on a regular basis.

      And it isn’t the parents’ fault. We can’t reach them at a working phone number or see them at conference or report card time, so how can we blame them?

      Absolutely it isn’t the administration’s fault because all they do is set policies, dictate curriculum and hire the teachers who seem to be doing such a bad job.

      We have no choice about whether a charter school will be formed. Unfortunately by the time teachers have been alerted it’s already a “done deal”.

      1. drpezz Post author

        Very sad since charter school students have a better chance of performing at lower levels than their public school peers rather than performing better. The Stanford study showed this clearly.

  4. Pingback: Education as a Business? « The Doc Is In

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