Should we abolish teacher's unions?

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  1. profile image0
    Stevennix2001posted 13 years ago

    I just saw the new "waiting for superman" documentary, and it had a lot of scary facts about the decline of our school system.  many of which may be next to impossible to abolishing.  Like did you know that teacher's with tenure are often the worst teachers in our school systems?  that's according to the documentary AND it gets worse.  once a teacher gets tenure, he/she is next to impossible to fire, even if you can prove beyond a reasonable doubt they're a bad teacher.  Like in the documentary they showed some teacher flat out just read books and didn't even bother teaching the class.  Needless to say, the super intendent fired them all, but he was forced to hire them back because they have tenure.

    plus, one of these teachers told a student, "i get paid whether you learn anything or not."  my question to you is this. what would you do if a teacher said that to your child, and what steps would you like to see implemented to improve our school systems.

    take in mind that teacher's unions impede any academic changes in school systems, and don't even mention getting rid of tenure as the head of the d.c. education board suggested to keep tenure, but offered teachers a choice of earning potentially six figure salaries based on performance as an option instead for those teachers wanting to give up their tenure.  well the teacher's union didn't even want to vote on it, as they saw it as a threat to divide their own union.  What do you think about this?

    1. dutchman1951 profile image61
      dutchman1951posted 13 years agoin reply to this

      All I know of this is I have a Neice with her heart in teaching big time, and I am afraid she is in for a disapointment with Unions in her state; (Rhode Island) I keep telling her to look else where to teach.

      She really loves it though

      1. profile image0
        Stevennix2001posted 13 years agoin reply to this

        sorry to hear that. what's wrong with the unions in her state if you don't mind me asking?  you don't have to say if it's too personal, but i was just curious since you brought it up.

    2. profile image0
      gooberpyleposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      well let me c the point of bad teachers and they are a lot i suppose,but don't try to say because their n the union thats watt makes them bad,like bill o'really and his bunch on fox news the spinmasterz,unions are not the problem,and believe me i know what i'm talkin' bout i was in the I.B.E.W.(electrical workers)for years before early retirement(due 2 a head on auto )before that worked in open shops 22yrs u couldn't drag me backwards 2 them rat holes although the repubs would like 2 do away with all LABOR unions they don't mind their retail merchants asso.(union)in fact they love unions they just hate labor UNIONS the asso.(likes 2 meet in their dirty little back roomz)and fix labor prices,just who do you think brought u the 40 hr work week,8hr work day(normally) safety on the job and a whole host of other treats you all enjoy,men gave up their lives,went to jail,union men and women 2 give u what u take 4 granted and wana toss away, most us union people don't make over 100,000 a year like some o u people so were just common folk but we stick together ,u wana abolish one union u wana abolish them all ,then u can have that Juan valdez from south o the border come fix your electrical panel and maybe blow it off the wall,EVER THOUGHT OF THAT huh same with teachers,plumbers,all the rest,oh and ....another thing about the kid why don't u asked them what it was they did to get that kind of reaction from the teacher,could be the kid needs 2 be taken out behind the wood shed and taught some manors. i may write a hub on this subject i think most people these daze don't understand the first thing about labor unions and their struggle for freedom.shalom

      1. profile image49
        tcat28posted 13 years agoin reply to this

        You're comment is a mess and makes no sense.  I find it ironic that you are responding with the most unreadable posting about the quality of education.  I hope you are not a teacher.  But if you are, this is a prime example of why the unions should not be protecting un/under educated teachers.  How can you educate my children when you can't write appropriately?

        But I think from what I read, you were in an electrical union?  I think I also gathered that Bill O'Reilly is a spinmaster lying about unions protecting unqualified people?  The unions struggle for freedom?  What?

        This post is a hot mess and your poor writing skills are helping you when defending the union (which is what I think you are trying to do).

    3. R W Harrington profile image59
      R W Harringtonposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Whether or not to abolish a teacher's union, or a plumbers union, or any type of organization that was established to protect the rights of some segment of society does not lend itself to a quick answer.

      We have to start by understanding why unions were formed.  Unions trace their beginnings to professional guilds.  Trade guilds such as a plumbers guild or a carpenters guild  established a set of professional standards and titles that conveyed any given individual's level of expertise.   These standards consisted of both performance standards and a prerequisite number of years experience to achieve a given level.  A plumber for example served as an apprentice for a number of years before s/he could be considered a journeyman, and a journeyman had to work for a certain number of years before s/he could become a "master" plumber.  I may not have the correct titles here, but you get the point.  It was a combination of performance and years of experience that determined one's level.  So that's the first factor.  "Unions" are supposed to guarantee an expected level of performance and expertise based on work results, and years of experience.

      Unions also came into existence as a result of abusive practices by business leaders.  Workers who were forced to work ridiculously long hours for sub-standard pay and under poor and/or dangerous working conditions were at the mercy of their bosses.  If you didn't like it, you could leave.   Workers eventually banded together to protect themselves.  If all your workers threatened to, or actually walked off the job unless a certain grievance was corrected, were and are still a force to be reckoned with.  Here is our second factor.  Unions were established to protect it's members from abusive business practices.

      The effect of these two factors resulted in better treatment for workers along with a "guarantee" of a level of performance based on experience.
      The playing field was leveled - for a while.

      The pendulum has now swung the other way.  Union power became so strong that businesses were required to pay higher and higher wages, more and better benefits. and manage workers under a set of treatment standards that bordered on the ridiculous.  In many cases the abuser (business) has become the abused, and the workers unions have become the abusers.   

      Teacher's unions are really no different than the guild system, or any other union.  What has come up missing over time is balance.  In the case of teachers,and perhaps other unions as well, the focus has become more on protecting the "rights" of teachers at the expense of the "guarantee" of a certain level of professionalism and expertise.  In my opinion it's not necessarily teacher's unions that should be eliminated, but  rather a counterbalancing body needs to be established that guarantees a minimum standard of performance by each union/guild member or that member is "kicked out" of the guild/union.  In an ideal world it would be the union itself that out of a sense of pride in their craft would police its members and see to it that members who don't measure up are kicked out.  Unfortunately, they seem to have lost sight of the "pride of workmanship" side of the coin. 
      How do we bring balance to this unbalanced situation?  I don't know - or at least I haven't given it enough thought to come up with a good way to do it.  But I think I've at least identified the problem.

      1. inversicolor profile image60
        inversicolorposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Great response.
        Did "Waiting for Superman" talk about the ever increasing class sizes that make it next to impossible for teachers to control classrooms?
        Do we want the kind of country that will prohibit the rights of its citizens to the extent of outlawing unions?
        How can we reach the children that are only there because they have to be? Most will regret not doing well later, how do we turn later into now so they can change?

        1. profile image0
          Stevennix2001posted 13 years agoin reply to this

          yep, it sure does.  in fact, that's one of the many issues it talks about as to why our education system is failing right now.  the teacher's union part was only one of the many problems listed.

    4. tiatuenge profile image55
      tiatuengeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      In light of LAUSD Miramonte Elementary pedophile debacle I want to know what we as parents and tax paying citizens can do to eliminate once and for all teacher's unions. They definitely do not serve the children nor do they serve good teachers. The only people who benefit from teacher's unions are substandard teachers. Two of my cousins are outstanding teachers and both loath the union and would like nothing more that to see it abolished.

      So how can we make this happen? What can be done to rid ourselves of this archaic disaster of an institution? And please believe that it can be accomplished. If we could eliminate segregation in the south teacher's unions can be eliminated as well.

      I would love to start a parents/concerned citizen's movement. How can we start this ball rolling? Any and all suggestions welcome.

    5. justateacher profile image82
      justateacherposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I don't belong to my union - but more from a money issue than anything else. I don't get paid enough to pay a weeks worth of my wages for union representation. I am a tenured teacher, as well.
      When I first read the beginning of your question I was beginning to get offended, but as I continued to read it, I understand. Unfortunately, there are bad people in every profession. In every profession there are those that are protected by unions and should be fired for a range of indiscretions from habitually coming in late (or not at all) to abuse of the elderly and the children.
      At one time, there was a need for unions. But they have served their purpose. It is time they went to the wayside...

      1. profile image0
        Stevennix2001posted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Yeah, that's true.  There's always going to be bad people in every profession.  However, in you're opinion though, what do you think is wrong with the educational system of today?  And what steps do you believe we as a society should do to improve it?

      2. profile image0
        Stevennix2001posted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Well I'm glad I didn't offend you, as that's really not my intention, but I apologize if you were.  However, since I read on your profile that you work as a teacher, I would like to ask you what do think is the biggest problem facing today's education in America?  And what steps do you think society should take to improve it?

    6. spectacled-bear profile image64
      spectacled-bearposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      First of all, it's not your choice to abolish a union. The teachers formed the union, not you. They are the only ones that can abolish it.

      Instead of abolishing the union, your only choice would be to fire all of the teachers, and hire an entirely new staff. Good luck. I'm sure there are many people with Master's Degrees (what you need to be a teacher, 6 years of college debt) looking for entry-level jobs that pay $35,000, as low as $25,000 in some states. I'm sure too, that those people are experienced in classroom control, and that there would be few problems with student discipline. Just explain to the students that you fired all the teachers for the good of the country, and that they need to pay attention to the new people because it's the right thing to do. I'm sure that will work. Adolescents are cooperative.

      Both my wife and I worked as unionized teachers in Massachusetts. My wife now works as a non-unionized teacher in Florida. In Massachusetts, 50% of teachers leave the job during the first three years. In Florida, working conditions are worse.

      I hope this helps.

      1. profile image0
        Stevennix2001posted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Buddy, I think you're taking my OP a bit too personally here.  The reason I started this thread was to discuss a topic that was brought up in the controversial documentary, "Waiting for Superman", to see what everyone would have to say.  In no way, was this forum ever meant to make a petition for people to abolish the teacher's union.  No, I just want to hear what everyone has to say.  Nothing more or less. I already stated my opinion earlier in the thread, so I'll leave it at that.  However, if I offended you in some way, I apologize.

        1. spectacled-bear profile image64
          spectacled-bearposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          Hi Steve,

          Well, your title is, "Should we abolish teacher's unions?" How was I supposed to take that?

          My statement that you can't abolish a teacher's union is not made to sound challenging. It's a fact. You can no more abolish a teacher's union when you are not a member than you can abolish the Elk's Lodge when you are not a member. It isn't your decision. I know that a lot of people talk as if it's a decision that the public can take, but it isn't.  A principal can decide to fire all of his or her current teachers, but that doesn't abolish the union. In fact, actions like that often strengthen unions.

          1. profile image0
            Stevennix2001posted 12 years agoin reply to this

            Oh that's fine.  From reading your post, I thought I might've offended you, but I can see now that I was clearly mistaken.  Yeah, you're right that it may not be our choice to abolish the unions, but I see no reason why we can't at least discuss it though.  Besides, I'm sure you can agree that something needs to be done to improve the education system in America these days.  Having said that though, what do you think should be done to improve the education system?

            1. spectacled-bear profile image64
              spectacled-bearposted 12 years agoin reply to this

              Steve, I'm not sure I have any better answers than anybody else, but here's what I would do for starters:

              1) Disallow all cell phones, etc. in school. They would be passed in at the beginning of the day, kept in a secure locker, and passed back at the end of the day. Using them in school would result in suspension.

              2) Hold students accountable for all criminal offenses, even minor ones. Anything that would get you arrested on the street, stealing, assault, harassment, etc. gets you arrested in school.

              3) Double (at least) the number of teachers. Thirty kids in 60 minutes is too much. If I spent all my time individually kid by kid, that's two minutes per kid. Considering teaching time, getting the class in order, etc., it's less than one minute per kid. And the discipline problems increase with so many students. There need to be fewer kids in class.

              4) Set up more technical and work-related programs for students who already know in high school what careers they want to pursue.

              5) Permanently suspend kids who can not adapt to a functional school environment. I suggest a three strikes policy. You can't give up on those kids, but that doesn't mean that you have to house them in a school that's working.

              I'm sure there's much more, but I can't think of it now...

              Thanks for this thread.

  2. brianzen profile image59
    brianzenposted 13 years ago

    Like all U.S. nightmares the teachers union does little but harbor sex offenders. Yes abolish it.

    1. profile image0
      Stevennix2001posted 13 years agoin reply to this

      your right, as the documentary even says that sex offenders that happen to be teachers don't necessarily get fired from public schools. no, no, no.  they just get transferred, and if they have tenure, you parents out there are screwed. big_smile

      1. Kotori profile image67
        Kotoriposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Not in my neck of the woods.  We have had plenty of sex offenders in Lake County, IL, but they've all been put on leave the minute there's a question.  Then they ultimately lose their jobs and go to jail.  Around here, they don't play.

    2. tiatuenge profile image55
      tiatuengeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      LAUSD Miramonte Elementary School! Need I say more.

  3. brianzen profile image59
    brianzenposted 13 years ago

    (or worse if it isn't the parents)

    1. profile image0
      Stevennix2001posted 13 years agoin reply to this

      yeah, that's true.  this is why i hate unions. they cause more harm than they do good and with the rate we're going, the usa could lose it's stance as a economic superpower, as our children rank almost dead last in every major academic category; especially in washington d.c.

  4. brianzen profile image59
    brianzenposted 13 years ago

    Wal-Mart hates unions too, which I personally like Wal-Mart, and have no opinion about that situation, but some unions are just enablers of laxity, which drives down the value of everything. And some unions are good for everyone or factories would be unsafe. But teachers unions and some labor unions are just more trouble than they are worth.

  5. Kotori profile image67
    Kotoriposted 13 years ago

    Unions have good points and bad points in all fields.  One example of a negative effect of being in a union is that a union might negotiate a decent contract for the following year, and then because the contract costs too much for the company/district to pay, people need to be let go.  This happened two years ago in the school district in which we live.

    However, unions are great at protecting their own, and while this can be bad (in the case of protecting lazy workers), it can also be good, as in providing legal support for workers who find themselves the victims of useless political witch hunts.  In my experience, those witch hunts are more prevalent in education than in any other field I have encountered, including restaurant work, retail, architecture, small businesses, corporations, Fortune 500 companies, and small businesses.

    Unions can be exceedingly beneficial in situations where the workers are public employees who have no say in their pay, such as in the case of teachers.  Public servants tend to get paid the bottom of the barrel, especially in poor economic times (except in the case of legislators who are allowed to vote for their pay increases), and even unions can do little to hamper the effects of people believing that no matter what they are paid, teachers should be paid less.

  6. niner profile image60
    ninerposted 13 years ago

    I understand the point of unions and the protection/safety they can provide workers, but I agree that many go a little over the line.

    Hopefully as college education for teaching majors is reformed, the newer generation of educators can work to change some of this. Definitely not fast-acting or reassuring in the meantime, but it's something at least.

    1. profile image0
      Stevennix2001posted 13 years agoin reply to this

      agree, but you have to remember, it's going to be tough as there's been various people working on public school boards that have been trying to improve education for years, but many have failed. in fact, the closest thing that's been working to improve education is charter schools but then again, they're so freaking hard to get into that not all students are chosen to get in, as they only have so many seats available.

      1. CollegePrepU profile image60
        CollegePrepUposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        I'm a school teacher, or ...was.  I'm a counselor now...but there are a lot of uneducated, generalized statements being thrown around here that makes ALL school systems sound like complete failures that harbor sex offenders.

        Yes, we get paid whether a student learns or not, but there isn't one teacher in my school that would say that meaning, "I'm not going to teach you much...and I'll still get paid".  Learning is ultimately up to the student. 

        Yes, there are bad teachers...unfortunately.  And there isn't much you can do about that because unions do protect tenured teachers.  But there are other things that unions protect us getting "fired" for no apparent reason.  Hence, why that Principal had to rehire his staff.  Instead of firing everyone, how about rolling up your sleeves and making some changes AS A SCHOOL PRINCIPAL.  Money was behind that, plain and simple.

        I definitely don't mean to offend anyone!  But I have a 2 1/2 year old and a 9 month old at home and if I was fired for no reason, they would be directly impacted and it would not be a good situation at all.

        1. profile image0
          Stevennix2001posted 13 years agoin reply to this

          well don't get me wrong, im not saying all teachers are bad nor that what the documentary points out is a 100 percent accurate.  however, it does bring up a lot of flaws about our school system that needs to be addressed.  listen, you seem like a nice person, and i mean no ill offense to you.  however, with the decline of our education, SOMETHING needs to be done soon. otherwise, the future may not be that great for america.

        2. It's just me profile image60
          It's just meposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          It may be up to the student to learn but it's up to the teacher to get and keep their interest to enable them to learn.
          One of the things that bothered me in school were the historical falsehoods taught in school. Being an avid reader I learned more outside of school than it while I was growing up.
          Being a Native American the falshoods were glaring.
          If a teacher insisted on a falsehood in the area of Native Americans in the history of the U.S. I never paid attention to them again.

    2. Kotori profile image67
      Kotoriposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      There's really not much connection between teacher education programs and the classroom, in my opinion as a teacher.  So I wouldn't be putting my eggs in that basket, if I were you. 

      I also wouldn't be putting my eggs into the school board basket.  These are people whose only requirements for their position is that they are over 18, live in the community, and got their paperwork in on time to get listed on the ballot.  Ours are 100x more corrupt than our union. 

      And I am in the same boat as you, CollegePrepU.  With kids to support, I mean.

  7. barranca profile image74
    barrancaposted 13 years ago

    Unions made the middle class in America.  And now that businesses after Ronnie Reagan era have pretty much destroyed them in the private sector, now the ideologues are trying to destroy them and the middle class at the same time.  Granted that the teacher unions have been too successful in negotiating contracts.  That pendulum must swing back on issues like tenure and pensions.  Likewise police unions and government worker unions.  Support unions=an America with a middle class.

    1. profile image0
      gooberpyleposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      barranca callin' barranca  you are the only one on here yet that has made an intelligent comment about unions,UNIONS MADE MIDDLE CLASS AMERICA,and i believe you understand as i do with out the middle class we are finished,i'v found that most people these daze are so naive as to what it takes to push this society along.shalom

      1. profile image49
        tcat28posted 13 years agoin reply to this

        The union made the middle class?  If so, then how can you explain that the middle class makes up 80% of the country, but only 11% of workers are represented by unions?

        "Unions make the middle class" argument is easy to disprove. 

        There was a time in this country when unions were needed, but that time is no longer.  This is the reason union representation is only 11% of workers.  Business has changed over the last 100 years, but unions still operate the same way they did when they began.  Public sector unions are bankrupting this country and the public sector employees are in for a surprise when all the public will not be in favor of paying for all the benefits and pensions union employees were promised.  It is better for unions to reform now instead of waiting until there is no money left to pay their pensions.  (this is the same for private sector employees as well).  When there is no money, there is no money.  And it is a lot better to get 10-15% less of what you were promised than 100% less of what you were promised.  This is where we are headed.  And when we get there, we will have riots in the streets just like you see in Europe right now.

  8. wyanjen profile image70
    wyanjenposted 13 years ago

    What's broken must be fixed, not thrown away.

    1. profile image0
      Stevennix2001posted 13 years agoin reply to this

      your right, but what can we do to fix it though is the question.

  9. Jane@CM profile image61
    Jane@CMposted 13 years ago

    We came from an amazing school district.  We never had issues with the teachers.  I worked very part time as a para, and yes there are a handful of teachers that are "tired" that they just quit fighting the system - and eventually retire.  Some of my daughters BEST teachers were older - more caring and far more educated in their teachings.  The younger teachers had a drive to teach and help their students learn.  We were very fortunate. 

    Now, here in the great state of California - the educational system sucks, at least in the district we live in. I know my son is intelligent - but in 9th grade there should be some homework??  My daughter in 9th grade had all honors classes, they don't even offer them here for 9th grade.

  10. Mighty Mom profile image77
    Mighty Momposted 13 years ago

    Ha! Welcome to CA, Jane! Many of our high school "graduates" have to go to community college to learn the basics that were never taught in K-12!
    Here, I think the bigger culprits are above the teacher level. The school board administrators association is in some hot water over undisclosed salaries.
    I like the idea of returning more decision-making and power to the level of the teachers and cutting out the bureaucrats.

    BTW, I read somewhere recently that we (I believe the US) will be in facing a huge deficit of teachers soon. I almost thought about becoming one. It would be a great field, if it weren't for the students lol

    1. habee profile image91
      habeeposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      It's not the students that are the problem - it's the bureaucratic red tape and ignorant board members and government officials that cause most headaches for us teachers. As for unions, there are no teacher unions around here. Instead, we have professional organizations that are very different from labor unions. For one thing, we can't go on strike.

  11. Starfishfelix profile image62
    Starfishfelixposted 13 years ago

    I don't know how the government could legally not allow a union, or a any group of people to get together for professional or political reasons (or pretty much any reason).

    The government could make it illegal to strike (this is done in our state), but I think that's about it.

    Also - it's not the teacher unions that prohibit tenure, it's contracts negotiated between the unions and school districts - both parties are involved.

    Teachers know who the bad teachers are and would be glad to be rid of them - they make the good ones look bad.  One of the main problems is that districts often fail to properly document problems (hoping they will go away), thus making it difficult to get rid of the bad eggs.

    The most common thing seems to be that the worst ones are put in some odd little corner doing some minor job away from students.  This at least keeps them away from the classroom, but is a waste of tax money.

    I don't know what the solution is, or even if there really is a solution - there have been bad employees in every field since there have been jobs (I'm sure Ogg the caveman had someone in his hunting party that never brought in his share of squirrels...)

    1. Kotori profile image67
      Kotoriposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Good point.  To abolish unions is tantamount to abolishing the right to free assembly.

  12. livewithrichard profile image71
    livewithrichardposted 13 years ago

    I think if we're going to fix our public schools then the first thing we need to do is boot the Federal Gvt. out of them. 

    Second, less money should be spent on administrator salaries and more on the schools and teachers. 

    Here in Illinois the Governor earns $177,000 per year yet the 200 highest paid school administrators earn between $200,000 and $379,000 and there are 2 very special people earning $609,000 and $632,000.  Now tell me that's not ridiculous.  There is no way a school administrator or teacher for that matter should be earning more than the Governor.

    The current system is fraught with management practices that have no bearing on the quality of education. It serves the tenure-protected union member of long standing. It also forms the basis for an overly-generous pension system that has become a financially unsustainable burden on this state's general revenue budget.

    1. Kotori profile image67
      Kotoriposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Hallelujah!  Go, Richard.

  13. profile image0
    klarawieckposted 13 years ago

    The truth is that there is only so much abuse a teacher can take until he/she becomes disillusioned with the profession and stops caring. I have met a few older teachers that have plainly given up and just keep their job as a source of income.
    During the nine years I've been teaching, I lost my classroom to be sent to a old smelly portable with no bathroom, internet and no telephone. I get wet everytime it rains as I have to travel so the children don't get wet. Just this year alone I've had three major infections caused by being exposed to the heavy rains. When I first got the job, it seemed that five hours of planning was enough to teach a school of about 300 children. Now, I teach two schools (620 kids) but my planning is still five hours a week. At the second school I push a cart (rain or shine) even though I have torned ligaments in my left knee. The list goes on and on forever. How long will I be able to sustain my love for teaching? Who knows! I believe once it gets to the point where I don't care anymore, I'll have to look for something else. But that's me! I don't even make 50,000 a year. If my salary was double the amount it is, then I might have to settle, bite my tongue and try to get by.
    The Union helps in some issues but it's far from perfect. It all depends on how savvy your Union steward is and on the connections he has. It's important to have a strong Union because principals love to walk all over teachers. That's a fact. It's better to have the support you need to know your rights as a teacher and to grieve any management decision that affects you directly and that goes against contract policy.

    1. profile image0
      Stevennix2001posted 13 years agoin reply to this

      im sorry to hear you have to go through all that klara.  that's awful.  no wonder why it's hard to find too many good teachers these days, as most people wouldn't be able to handle those kind of conditions.  heck, i don't know if i could.  however, you do bring up a lot of good points.

    2. Kotori profile image67
      Kotoriposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Kiara, THAT is a FACT!  Principals DO love to walk all over teachers.  And I should know:  I've worked under 5 of them in 8 years.  What is it about administration that attracts jerks and bullies?  I wish my union were stronger, because we put up with things that, while fundamentally different from your situation, are equally demeaning.

  14. Jeff Berndt profile image74
    Jeff Berndtposted 13 years ago

    On Unions in general:

    They serve a purpose: to ensure that workers are not bullied, defrauded, or exploited. But since they operate on a collective mentality, they also pull down the best workers and lift up the worst workers to the average level. Not sure how to solve this issue, but I'm also not sure that they necessarily go hand in hand.

    On the Teachers' union in particular:

    They're needed in that everybody wants teachers to exceed expectations (stay after school when their kid needs extra help, etc) but nobody wants to pay for it. We entrust teachers to do an incredibly difficult and important job, but expect them to do it for as little money as we can get away with paying them. We want to get excellence while paying for mediocrity. So teachers need a union. But the NEA has its problems, just like the UAW and the AFL/CIO, and they would have a better image if they would start acting more like the AMA than the UAW.

    On Tenure:
    It exists to make it hard for a teacher to be fired for things unrelated to how well they teach. Like political disagreements with the administration, arguments with the administration over how best to teach a given student (or students in general) curriculum disputes, unfounded accusation of wrongdoing, etc.
    It has its problems, in that it does allow a tenured teacher to "relax" as it were, since most districts cut back on evaluations of a teacher once he or she gets tenure. This actually makes sense, since (in theory) you give a teacher tenure only when you're sure they're a good teacher, so, logically, once a teacher has tenure, you don't need to check up on them so often.

    At the same time, it is not "nearly impossible" to fire a tenured teacher. If an administrator wants to get rid of a teacher, they can. It simply requires a certain amount of extra record-keeping. All tenure really is, is a requirement for the school administration to show good cause to dismiss the teacher in question. If good cause can be shown, the teacher is still fired. If the teacher is a bad one, it won't be hard to gather enough evidence to show good cause.

    Tenure not a magic shield from consequences like some people think it is. If you want to be angry about sub-par teachers using tenure as a shield, you should be angry at principals who are too lazy or too weak (or both) to keep the needed records and fire a teacher with cause.

    1. Kotori profile image67
      Kotoriposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Couldn't have said it better myself.  Thanks for this post.

    2. profile image49
      What's The Dealeoposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I really feel the need to reply to that post. So let me break this down.

      They're needed in that everybody wants teachers to exceed expectations (stay after school when their kid needs extra help, etc) but nobody wants to pay for it obviously not a corporate worker. Do accountants leave at 5 or do they work until the job is done?  Do investments bakers quit at five or do they complete the task?  Do the developers at Face Book quit at five or do they work to develop and invent new and exciting technology?  That is problem number 1.

      We want to get excellence while paying for mediocrity.  What kind of car do all of you buy?  Is a GM or is it a foreign one that might be cheaper and has rumored better quality?  Ids like to look in your house and see how many goods you own are higher priced but American made as compared to foreign made. Problem number 2.

      Tenure.......can you imagine corporate America with Tenure and these suggestions?  If I am let go do to bad earnings, reduction in force, sale of the company I guess I should have tenure to protect me? Seriously?

      Give me a break........I see two words here "Entitlement" and "Protection"  which are in essence what the first post are really pointing to as the issues.

      Teachers are not bad, unions are in the way they are today.

  15. livewithrichard profile image71
    livewithrichardposted 13 years ago

    Pretty good assessment R W.  I think there is a very large distinction between unions of the private sector and unions of the public sector.  The both affect the general populace as consumers and as taxpayers. 

    You're right that there needs to be put in place a balancing agent, at least in the public sector.  The Fed Govt is not that balancing agent and I believe they are responsible for most public sector unions becoming more protectionist with their members.  That balancing agent should be in the form of State Legislation.

    In the private sector, I'm not in favor of any outside manipulation.  Those unions have to be self-regulating and take into account our semi-free market system and the ability of any business to relocate at will to a more favorable environment, preferably to states with fewer unions rather than out of the country.

  16. couturepopcafe profile image61
    couturepopcafeposted 13 years ago

    I think tenure should definately be done away with.  People get lazy when they know they can't really lose their job.  They stop doing a good job.  Not all, but many.  No reason for tenure.

    1. Kotori profile image67
      Kotoriposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      I disagree.  In the public sector, the reasons for tenure would take me hours to enumerate.  I should also say that I am a teacher, and one of the best in my school, and that I have had the best test scores in my school or nearly the best every year that I've been there.  However, of the 5 principals I've worked under, two have tried to find reasons to get rid of me for reasons other than my teaching ability.  Let's just say that the really excellent teachers tend to be intelligent, and intelligence is intimidating.

  17. psycheskinner profile image84
    psycheskinnerposted 13 years ago

    Unions may not be perfect, but I would rather have a 'too powerful' union than a 'too powerful' government backed administration.

    1. Jeff Berndt profile image74
      Jeff Berndtposted 13 years agoin reply to this


  18. Paul Wingert profile image58
    Paul Wingertposted 13 years ago

    I believe all unions served their purposes and need to be dissolved. The things that unions fought for in the early years (righfully so) are now local and federal law and unions are now just plain greedy. Prime reason why a lot of jobs are going over seas becasue the cost of labor. Why would an employer pay a person $25 an hour when they can pay a fraction (and not woory about massive overhead) of that to a foreigner for the same job? A local Safeway grocery store (unionized) pays an employee $35 an hour to run a cash register and they are crying because a Walmart Supercenter (nonunionized) is opening a couple blocks down the street with mush the same items at better prices. In the education sector, when I went to school, I had great teachers and some plain losers who need to go back working for McDonalds. If a teacher isn't worth a crap, they should be terminated without any flack from their union.

  19. cardelean profile image85
    cardeleanposted 13 years ago

    There are a lot of interesting and thought provoking comments on this post.  I am a teacher of 12 years.  I have not yet seen Waiting for Superman but it frustrates me that there is a glimpse of the educational system being shown and the general public runs with this idea that teachers don't work hard and are overpaid.  Yes, there are teachers who are bad teachers and should not be teaching, trust me I work with some of them and it makes my job harder when I receive kids from those teachers.  The American educational system needs to be reformed in many ways.  Unions are PART of the problem.  But school boards, parents, and administration are other parts.  There are very corrupt, power seeking individuals who get elected to serve on school boards.  You do not need a background in education to do this job.  So in essence, the same people who are making the decisions for school districts do not have any education in education.  Administration (specifically principals) are the ones who give the green light for tenure.  I have seen many teachers in my day receive tenure when they truly have no business in the field of education.  The principals should not allow this to happen.  The education of children needs to be a collaborative effort.  From the clips that I have seen of the movie, the emphasis is on the parents that want better for their children.  That is admirable however as teachers, we must educate ALL children, even the ones whose parents are not involved, who have no home to go to, who at age nine are the primary care givers to their younger siblings,and who will not eat another meal until they come back to school in the morning.  I go all year without ever meeting some of my students' parents and I teach elementary school.  In America we educate all children.  Other countries only educate their "best."  These are all things that we must consider as we make a choice to place judgement on the jobs that teachers do.  I am not merely a teacher, I am a parent, a social worker, a nurse, a food server, etc. in my day.  I encourage all of you who think that teaching is an easy, overpaid, overrated job to volunteer to shadow a teacher in an urban school in your community for one week.  You would be amazed at all of the things that we must do in a day and at the abuse that we take from parents, students, and administration.  Yes, unions do protect bad teachers, but until American society puts the value back on education and not just sports and entertainment, this will be an ongoing, losing battle.

    1. mathsciguy profile image60
      mathsciguyposted 12 years agoin reply to this


  20. Dame Scribe profile image56
    Dame Scribeposted 13 years ago

    Info that may be a little off topic. I've been doing a biz plan for a biz n done the cashflow with and without unionized workers. Scene A) The $$ and growth potential for the biz suffers and less workers for the biz with a union Scene B) a biz can grow with more $$ if no union therefore more jobs.

    I'm not sure why they have unions either when we now have employment and labor laws that could be amended to reflect info learned by unions. A balance definitely has to be found. hmm

  21. Stacie L profile image87
    Stacie Lposted 12 years ago

    Ok I'll just as 'walk a mile in my shoes." People who think teaching is such an over paid,cushy job should volunteer to work in a school for a few weeks and see what it's all about. I've heard many parents and other volunteers state that they wouldn't have my job at all after working for a few days!
    The unions help teachers with getting some time to eat lunch, and planning times,but I've had many a day without a break due to teacher shortages and fighting students.
    Some districts do pay very well and many do not,but unions are necessary. It also helps the students with class size, as well as offering other subjects.

    1. profile image0
      Stevennix2001posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Well Stacie, I don't disagree with you that teachers do have it rough, and most of the ones that are good at their jobs are heroes of society if you ask me.  However, the documentary did raise a lot of key issues that sparked my curiosity to find out more behind it's queries though.  Sure, you don't have to agree with the documentary, but the education level of children has gone considerably down over the years, so I don't see any problems from looking at this situation from all angles to try to figure out an answer.  However, as i just told that bear guy, I do apologize if I offended you with the OP, as that's not the intention I was going for here.

      1. Stacie L profile image87
        Stacie Lposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        There are issues and problems children and families didn't address years ago. families are splintered and many are headed by single parents,which means many children are on their own most of the time while mom or dad works. Drugs are more prevalent so kids are getting hooked. TV<video games are a major distraction to learning. i had many kids sleeping at their desks due to staying up all night watching tv,porn or playing games in their rooms while parent slept or worked.
        On another topic post, posters noted that teachers and most in authority are not respected so discipline has become a major problem int ha classroom. I was threatened by student and parents on many occasion..Shall i continue?
        Society has changed in the last 40 years...we need to come back to basics again but how?

  22. psycheskinner profile image84
    psycheskinnerposted 12 years ago

    Saying that a malfunctioning union should be abolished is a bit like saying an ill child should be murdered.  There is another option.


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