In My Opinion
Education Reform and the Role of Teacher's Unions
I would first like to start off by thanking teachers. Without them there would not be other professions. I was a teacher for a number of years. I have since left the profession to be a work at home mom. The reason I left the profession is because teaching became less about the children and more about the government and standardized testing. The drive to succeed on tests does not leave time to actually explore learning. Teachers must only teach the children the subjects that will be on the tests. They must do everything in their power to insure the children know the concepts and how they will be addressed on the test. If they fail to do so, they could be fired.
The issue with this method is that children learn differently. They also test differently. There are also contributing factors to a child’s ability to take a standardized test because there isn’t a standard student. There are students who come to school that aren’t willing, or able to learn. There are students who haven’t eaten or slept or come from such violence that they can’t concentrate. The teaching profession isn’t like it used to be. Teachers are expected to fix everything. The children aren’t ready to learn and some of their behaviors are deplorable at best.
The modern student believes they are owed everything. A large majority lack respect and they do not have a desire to succeed. The teacher can only be responsible for so many things, considering their classes are packed full of students with limited materials. I used to receive $200 for school supplies for the year for my classroom. I am not sure how $200 in supplies was supposed to help with 28 seven-year-olds. I was also limited on the amount of copies I could make. My solution was to buy a laminator and dry erase pens.
The problem is some kids aren’t going to be able to pass a standardized test no matter how much time you spend teaching them. The alternative assessments are a waste of time because they do not capture what these children need. How are our schools combating the rise of Autism? . These children are inspirational but unable, in most cases, to take standardized tests, but that doesn’t mean they are not smart or are not learning.
The question becomes how do you measure a teacher’s effectiveness in an unfair playing field? The answer, in my mind, is simple. The principle performs observations. The instructor also attends classes, which would be paid for by the school, to hone their craft. The teacher is asked to demonstrate their ability to teach. They are graded on classroom management, student participation, lesson effectiveness, and implementation of their new course work.
Are Unions To Blame?
The problem is that what we are doing in the classroom isn’t working. I think it’s because of lack of support. The lack of support is evident in the home, community, and the institutions themselves. They are further crippled with a very unhappy union.
The Teachers unions are a farce of protection aimed at protecting teachers but ultimately failing them. The teachers pay into the union for their protection. In most cases, this coverage is not a choice but it is required. The money collect is used to fund legal protection that unfortunately is relevant and necessary in today’s society where parents are suing for grades.
It sounds amazing. You can pay to keep your job until you are ready to retire. The problem is the unions protect teachers that should be fired. I have worked with teachers that, frankly, do not deserve their job. They aren’t innovative and they aren’t thinking of the students when they design their lesson plans. They are just doing what they have been doing for years.
The concept of tenure plays a role. When you have been with a school system for three years you are guaranteed a job. There are two problems I have with this. First, there are great teachers who are without jobs each summer because they do not have tenure. I was one of these teachers and if I wasn’t married, I would not have been able to afford to “wait” to see if I had a job. This went on for three years. I was let go from several jobs because we were military and moved every two years. I wasn’t let go because of my ability, only my time served.
Secondly, I was also told that I couldn’t teach a grade again because someone with tenure wants your position. It made me think. Do we have the right people teaching the right grades? I am an excellent teacher for certain grades but I am not as well versed in others. If you think about it, the more time you spend in a grade, the better instructor you become because you know the material.
The unions are out of control. They are a feeding ground supporting political agendas instead of teachers and the students. In the past couple days, the strikes in Chicago bring to light the necessity to quell such organizations and instead focus on the issues. All in all, its a very unholy union.
The issues are clear. The educational system in America requires reform. The reform needs to start in the community, the home, and the classroom. A stronger support system for our children that isn’t tied to political grandstanding, but rather tied to economics is what needs to be implemented. If checks were given based on attendance, homework turned in and parental involvement, then we would have children that were ready to learn. If teachers were given the materials, support they needed and the tools to do their job effectively, they would be effective.
If the schools were cleaned out of people who can’t teach and shouldn’t teach, then everyone would be better off. If the millions of dollars collected by unions were returned to the schools to invest in better buildings, before and after school academic enrichment, or supplemental programs, we could make a world of difference. If people focused on intervention and engagement instead of test scores, then everyone would pass.
The world is a different place these days, and using the same instrument to measure everyone isn’t realistic. The need for unions would diminish if the government actually understood how schools worked. Instead of implementing programs that are ridiculous, like no child left behind. Honestly, most of those children were behind from the moment they drew their first breath. The reason is that we haven’t done enough in this country to educate and empower the people that need it most. You can’t take a #2 pencil and fill in “failed system” while not failing unions.