Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Teachers Like Me Support Unions

I'm sure you've heard the news.
Unions are being attacked in Wisconsin and Ohio... and yep, I live in Ohio. (Born and raised!  Except for a couple of years when I was really little and my parents moved to Florida.  But I digress.)  

It's an uncertain time to be a teacher.  My school (along with many others) is facing some big financial difficulties.  We've cut teachers in the past with more cuts promised for next year.  Levies have failed.  The money's just not there.

Yeah, I get that.  I know that a lot of people are hurting financially right now.  But to hear that our unions are being attacked is a scary thing.

We were talking at lunch the other day about the comradery that we now have that could be affected by this.  We all share ideas and resources and are helpful when someone asks.  It's a great place to be.  But what happens now when you think the school doesn't need two precalculus teachers?  Then you'd better do a better job than the girl next door.  She asks you for help?  Ha!  I sincerely hope that doesn't happen.... and I'm pretty sure it wouldn't happen around here (at least with the people I hang with).  But I can imagine that at another school with different personalities you could have some big problems.

Another couple of things that worry me:
1.  Class sizes will not be capped.  My biggest classes in the past few years were right around 30.  Not only is it a pain to grade that many papers (when you have several classes that big and are trying to grade proofy things) but I feel like I don't get a chance to get to know a lot of the quieter kids.
2.  Merit pay?  How exactly is that going to work? How is a value going to be determined?  Annually?  What about teachers whose classes don't take a standardized test?   I have yet to see something concrete that describes it.  Until then, anything I hear is a rumor (Like a board member stating that they'd like to cap salaries at $50,000... I read yesterday that the average Ohio teacher's salary is around $57,000.  And that's the average.)

So who gets hurt the most in all of this?  The kids.  Good teachers will leave or not even become a teacher at all.  A friend of mine who is currently taking classes to become certified asked me the other day about whether I thought she should continue on with it or try a different career.

I'm not a great writer (a big reason that I'm a math teacher!), so here are some other people's posts that are much better than mine:  (I'll add to this list as I find them.)

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