The purpose of this blog is to know and understand the teacher's perspective concerning current issues on education reform and the teaching profession. Inputs from the ones who probably knows what is best for students academically -- the teachers -- are rarely considered in decision making of policies. Yet, these so-called education experts and lawmakers dictate how we do our jobs and what we should teach. That's not right!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A lesson on bad teachers, teacher tenure, and teachers unions...from a teacher's perspective

Today, I came across an article about Educators 4 Excellence, a new teacher organization that will "authentically" represent the teachers' voices and concerns, unlike the established teachers unions can. One of its founders, Sydney Morris, is an educator who, according to the article, feels like

[she should] be rewarded if she can show she helps students make progress in her classroom. She also wants to make job protections such as tenure more difficult to get, and in the event that layoffs have to happen she wants the worst teachers to be let go first, no matter how long they've been teaching.
As a fellow teacher, I wholeheartedly agree with her. While I am pro-teacher union, this position definitely goes against what teachers unions advocate. Like Ms. Morris, I believe we need a professional entity that will voice and represent the needs of its members first and foremost.

These are my personal feelings...

...regarding teachers unions:
  • WE NEED THEM to protect us teachers from incompetent administrators, irate parents, and any form of litigation.
  • WE NEED THEM to ensure our tenure privilege
  • WE NEED THEM to provide us with a professional public voice
However, teachers unions must change in the following areas:
  • STOP taking teachers' misfortunes for granted; unions are not for-profits businesses
  • WORK smarter for your member's needs
  • LISTEN to your members; be more supportive
  • GROW a backbone and stand for what's right, even at the risk of alienating political partnerships
  • STOP perpetuating the stereotypes of protecting bad teachers
  • ENERGIZE your membership base on EVERY critical issues regarding our profession
  • STOP "sleeping with enemy"
  • SOLICIT more support, don't kiss butt,  from other school stakeholders
  • IMPROVE the public image of public schools and the teaching profession
  • COMMUNICATE & DISSEMINATE information to your members more effectively
...regarding tenure:
  • Definition -- Tenure is a form of job security for teachers who have successfully completed a probationary period. Its primary purpose is to protect competent teachers from arbitrary non renewal of contract for reasons unrelated to the educational process -- personal beliefs, personality conflicts with administrators or school board members, and the like.
  • Thus, tenured teachers are guaranteed due process i.e., the opportunity for individuals to explain and defend their actions against charges of misconduct or other reasons.
  • Where in the world did the public perception of teacher tenure equates in sparing bad teachers come from? Tenured teachers can be terminated for unprofessional behavior and poor job performance
  • Tenure is not the problem; lack of sufficient documentation from administrators is.
  • Since the current statistics states that nearly half of new teachers will leave the profession in five years, the probationary period for new teachers should be extended to 5-7 years before attaining tenured status.
  • Therefore, tenure provides teachers with job protection, not job security...KNOW THE DIFFERENCE!
  • As long as there are incompetent administrators in the school house, I will forever advocate for teacher tenure. It is an earned privilege, not a right!
... regarding bad teachers:

In an earlier blog entry, I stated seven characteristics of an incompetent teacher:
  1. Engage in illegal activities
  2. Violate the teacher-student sacred relationship
  3. Hurt our students physically, verbally, and/or emotionally
  4. Low our standards by publicly acting unprofessionally
  5. Speak up and stand for the might, instead of for the right
  6. Look the other way and remain silence when wrong is done by others
  7. Show job apathy while cashing your paycheck
Nevertheless, rating a "bad teacher" can be relative to incompetent administrators. Hence, documented evidence is critical in labeling teachers as "bad" or "incompetent".

There are severe public misconceptions concerning these three areas. Teachers unions are not perfect; yet we teachers need them. Tenure protects teachers from senseless firings via due process rights. Bad teachers are defined by official documentation of unprofessional misconduct and actions, not by others' opinions.

From a teacher's perspective, I hope this piece shed a more accurate light to the public, especially after just reading the recent TIME poll findings of Americans' views on teacher tenure and teacher unions, among other things...*shrug*

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