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Teacher Union

In: English and Literature

Submitted By dodgers7858
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English 101
Education: Teacher’s Union Power
Over the years unions have provided many benefits to union workers through collective bargaining. One of the biggest union forces in the United States is the teachers union. With almost close to 5 million members nationwide, the teachers union is one of the most powerful unions. Through collective bargaining, problems have been created for the public school system which takes place at local school districts; rules have been imposed to create ineffective forms of organization at schools. The rules that are currently in place by collective bargaining are also creating a big disconnection with many public schools, that being the interest of the children. The teachers union is one main role players that is behind the organized education system of the United States. So, why are the public schools systems in the United States failing? The answer can be complicated a one, one of the reasons why the public school system is broken is due to the collective bargaining through the teachers union. Collective bargaining has made great impact on student achievement, as a result, the teacher unions have often used their political power to block or weaken major education reform efforts, efforts that would expand school choice for many students and parents. School districts that engage in collective bargaining only promote job interest for teachers. The collective bargaining with teachers union does not promote an effective way for students to succeed in the classroom.
Teachers are the most important people in children’s lives, their role is significant when it comes to educational achievement. In order, to have students succeed and reach academic success teachers help develop and implement a system that best fits the student; Unions play a big role when developing these systems or processes. Unions are there to protect and promote their occupational interest for the teachers; unions are not designed to help children. Unions use their political power to block or weaken systems that can be put the teacher’s job at risk. Unions shapes the schools from the bottom up by creating restricted work rules, salary rules that pay teachers based on seniority with no attention to performance holding no one accountable. Unions play an influential role from the top down by using political leverage, the unions are able to block or weaken new laws they do not want by using the American system of checks and balances.
Since the early 1980s improving public school performance has consistently been a top priority for the American government. Education policy expert, Terry Moe who is also a political science professor at Stanford University mentions that since the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983 public officials have been under intense pressure to improve academic performance. During this time the teachers union have also had an enormous support, this includes close to a million members, political activists, and large sums of money for campaign contributions and lobbying. The teachers unions have also helped shape the way American public education is set today. Many teachers belong to the NEA (National Education Association union), the NEA which was founded in the 1900’s, the NEA was controlled by administrators in the 1900’s and opposed unions at that time. During the 1960’s and 1970’s the NEA converted to a union membership and collective bargaining. This meant that the NEA would become the largest union force of any type in the country. The teachers unions have used their political power in shaping the nation’s schools not by implementing policies into schools, but by blocking reforms that can hold teachers accountable by the performance of the classroom.
The NEA and the AFT represent millions of teachers throughout the country. Moe indicates that teachers unions are known has political powerhouses which contribute millions of dollars to campaign contributions and lobbying. Fortune Magazine has consistently ranked National Education Association in the top 15 of its Washington Power 25 list for influence in the nation’s capital. The American Federation of Teachers along with the National Education Association has given more than $60 million combined in campaign contributions over the last 20 years (Moe 267). Ballot initiatives that are created in to order to begin school reform usually are defeated because their huge sums of moneys that come from these unions in order to defeat a ballot that can jeopardize a teacher’s job. Let’s keep in mind that unions are designed to protect the interest of the teachers, unions are not designed to help the interest of children. The unions use this money mostly to demand special interest for the teachers, such as imposing a structure at the workplace giving teacher’s rights and restricting managerial control. Teacher unions are by far the most powerful forces in American education and use their power to promote their own special interests at any expense.
Teachers are by far the most powerful force in education. The public school system needs great teachers and needs to support these great teachers; the typical teacher wants to do a good job. Teachers care about children and they also care about effective education. Teachers join unions to protect and promote their occupational interests as employees: in job security, in better wages and benefits, in restrictive work rules. These job interests, which are the core interests that motivate union behavior are simply not the same as the interests of children or the requirements of effective organization (Moe 205). Unions are a representing a part of what teachers are, this includes protecting the bad teachers. Tenure is the practice of guaranteeing a teacher their job. Originally, this was a due process guarantee, something intended to work as a check against administrators firing teachers and replacing them with friends or family members. It was also designed to protect teachers who took political stands the community might disagree with. Tenure as we understand it today was first seen at the university level, where professors would work for years and publish many pieces of inspired academic work before being awarded what amounted to a job for life. At the elementary and high school level, tenure has transformed from the original understanding of “due process” to “job for life.” In most states, teachers are awarded tenure after only a few years, at which time they become almost impossible to fire. The main function of these laws is to help bad teachers keep their jobs. In 2009, The Los Angeles Times reported that fewer than two percent of teachers are denied tenure during the two year probationary period after being hired. And once they have tenure, there’s no getting rid of them. L.A. Unified doesn't pursue as many firings as other major districts, considering its size. The district, which has about 30,000 tenured teachers, fires approximately 21 teachers a year well under 1 per 1,000 teachers. Between 1995 and 2005, only 112 Los Angeles tenured teachers faced termination, eleven per year, out of 43,000. And that’s in a school district where the graduation rate in 2003 was just 51 percent.
Merit pay is a basic reform supported by the vast majority of the public. Those who argue for merit pay think that teachers shouldn’t be paid based on how long they have worked at a school. Instead, good teachers should be paid more, and less effective teachers should be paid less or fired. Since most people have jobs in the private sector where your pay depends on how well you do your job, not how long you’ve worked for a company. Yet unions have been resistant to the idea that some teachers deserve to be paid better than others. In 2009, when the state of Florida began taking steps on implementing a merit pay scale, union leaders claimed that the new pay system would drive skilled teachers out of the classroom and create more chaos in Florida public schools(Galvin). The reason why unions fight against merit pay is that they are uncomfortable with holding teachers accountable for academic results. By allowing a pay merit system to take place teachers will be judged based off performance, which also help detect the bad teachers which the union is always defending.
You are probably asking yourself why the school districts don’t try to terminate or fire more incompetent teachers or poor performing teachers? The answer to this question leads back to money, when a teacher with tenure is in the process of being fired. Scott Waldman, a writer for the Times Union in Albany, New York points out that a teacher in order to go through a dismissal hearing in New York is called a 3020 hearing, the hearing can be expensive to go through, it would be less expensive to pay the teacher their salary and stick them in a corner. Building a case for dismissal is so time-consuming and costly for principals and administrators that many say they don't make the effort except in the most significant cases. The vast majority of firings are from misconduct, including sexual abuse, other immoral or illegal behavior. In 80% of the dismissals that were upheld, classroom performance was not even a factor. A school district can spend thousands of dollars in litigation fees in attempt to getting rid of one bad teacher. As long as union leaders are able to drag out termination hearings for months or maybe even years, the school districts must continue to pay the teachers salary, the substitute teacher’s salary and lawyers’ fees. The education situation for the students will remain the same and will not improve.
The best hope for the future is that the schools increasingly seek effective organization, teachers will have to create their own reforms and decisions making that will benefits many students. In Douglas County, Colorado the school district proposed a series of new reform measures. First, the school district sought to fill classrooms with the highest quality teachers by offering merit-based pay, which is determined by individual teacher performance, rather than seniority. Second, implementation of the Choice Scholarship Program allows parents to choose the ideal school to meet their children's individual needs Douglas County has a graduation rate of 87.4 percent. (Eden).
Another key factor that can improve the organization of schools will be technology; technology will help reinvent the public education system in America. Technology will help create new learning styles and life situations to students. Many students will be allowed to work at their own pace at anytime from anywhere. By implementing technology which is more inexpensive schools can be more cost effective, schools will not have to worry about being on tight budgets. Technology is a threat to teachers unions, this means that the more classes that are offered online or hybrid classes that take place, and there will be fewer teachers. If there are less teachers there will be less members in the union organization. The advance of technology is a force that the unions will not be able to stop, the unions might be able to slow the progress of technologies. But with the advancement of technology and the decrease of union members, the unions will not able to block education reform because the unions will have fewer funds and campaign contributions.
Performance based evaluations can be measured online, there are many math and science online programs that measure the level of performance of students. With the performance evaluations school districts will be able to determine which areas or schools need further assistance or they can detect if a particular teachers are the reason for poor performances. The school system will be completely redesigned due to technology, it will help student’s instant answers or solutions in which areas they need to improve in. These tools that are provided to students by technology will enhance a different learning experience with positive results. These new changes will help remove incompetent teachers out of the classroom giving students an opportunity to learn on their own and different ways with a positive end result. Because technology stands to have enormous impacts on jobs and money, the teachers unions find it threatening There will be a growing substitution of technology for labor, and thus a steep decline in the number of teachers (and union members) per student. Technology will bring along exciting developments, and they may well grow in strength and intensity. But they still leave the teachers unions with enormous power. Indeed, these “new-wave reformers actually have no intention of undermining the unions’ power base and, without a big boost from technology, they are unlikely to bring about anything like transformative change” (Moe 480). They are capable of bringing about more performance-based evaluations; more data, more charters, and thus in winning small victories for sanity that are beneficial and much-needed.
As long as the teachers unions remain powerful, America’s schools cannot be organized in the best interests of children. At the local level, the unions use their power in “collective bargaining to impose special interest work rules that make no sense from the standpoint of effective schooling” (Moe 478). The core dilemma here is union and teacher interests are not aligned with the educational interests of children, the restrictions built into labor contracts should not have negative consequences for academic achievement But the evidence suggests that reducing the restrictiveness of labor contracts could have significant payoffs for public education. The dilemma will not go away so easily the teacher unions will continue to pursue their job interests and will continue to come into conflict with the effective organization of schools. With the support of many education leaders throughout the nation and the many advancements in technology we will see an education system that has been protect by the unions for decades transform the way students learn and the way teachers teach with positive school organization that will promote academic success.…...

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