This is a topic I seem to be writing about more and more often these days.
My union.... The California Education Association. Yeah, "that" union.... The Teacher's Union.
My initial disclaimer is long winded but worth revisiting. For the great bulk of my 19 year career, I have very much disliked most of what my union has done and has stood for.
I have disliked working in a profession where I am paid based upon how long I've been doing this job, not based upon how well I do it. I have disliked the fact that I was never allowed to negotiate my own contract. Given that math teachers are in tremendous demand and that there are hundreds of available elementary school teachers, is it not reasonable that the mathematics position merits a higher pay than the other? Maybe I'm not "more important", but I am certainly more scarce.
My dislike grows to hatred when I think about my union's overly liberal politics. A microcosm of this is the recent Proposition 8. Prop 8 here in California was the bill put to the public about same-sex marriage. My union decided to spend 2.2 million dollars to run an advertising campaign in support of same sex couples. While personally I don't care what people do behind closed doors, WHAT THE HELL IS MY UNION DOING SPENDING MY UNION DUES ON THIS?????? Why should we take a position at all? Why are we spending even one nickel on a social issue when we should be spending all of our time and effort trying to figure out how to best educate kids and provide great teachers with reasonable compensation. GRRRRRR Every time I think about Prop 8 I get angry.
All that aside, I am so very glad I am a member of my union, and I am so grateful for what it does for me.
Thank you for protecting me from those who want to close public schools and privatize education. I can't imagine they are in it for the money. Nah... Thank you for protecting me from the roar of the media that I, as an experienced teacher, should be fired to make the way for a younger, more vigorous teacher. I could NOT be more tired of hearing how all of us older teachers are simply mailing it in and biding our time until retirement while the younger teachers, many of whom cannot find jobs, have so much more energy and access to newer/better teaching practices. To this I say, Horseshit. I will only speak for myself, my department, and my school when I say the absolute best teachers are the ones that have been doing it for awhile. Energy? I challenge anyone to match the energy of our experienced staff. On average, our experienced staff is way more energetic, way more reflective, way more innovative and have way better outcomes. People have a misconception about our young staff.
Back in the day, new teachers didn't make enough money to live, so we all took all the available jobs on campus. We coached 2 sports, chapparoned all the dances, signed up for Saturday SAT proctoring and grabbed extra classes when available. Now? These guys are making over 50 grand a year and very few of them are doing more than teaching and going home. Young, vigorous, energetic with all the latest teaching strategies? I'm not seeing it.
I seemed to have digressed. Thank you Union for allowing me to keep doing what I do as long as I do it exceptionally well.