Teachers’ Unions Should Not be Demonized, but Must Face the Future

What is going down in Wisconsin with the teacher’s union is a Category 5 hurricane. In order for us to really “win the future” we must be smart and collaborative. We cannot declare war on public employee unions and think our future would be brighter. It will not.

We need strong public employee unions now more than ever. In my Jan. 25 column I wrote, “The perfect storm is brewing right off our coast. Union leaders, superintendents, board members and community leaders must step it up if we are going to be able to thrive after the storm hits. Our children deserve nothing less.”

I am not naïve enough to think what is happening in Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey and Tennessee cannot happen in the Golden State some year soon. Many individuals who post comments to this weekly column show a propensity to dislike teacher unions and blame them for the crisis in public education.

For certain there is enough blame to go around for the ills of public education, but to blame the unions is a travesty. Teacher unions (CTA and CFT), California School Employee Associations (CSEA), and Service Employee International Union (SEIU) play an important role in representing the needs of their members. I fear the future of public education if unions are eviscerated of their collective bargaining rights.

Where I diverge with the unions is when they demonstrate a belief that things can stay just as they have been for 30 years in this unceasingly changing world. Change is the new constant. Charter schools are here to stay and are funded with our tax dollars. They do not have unions, with the exception of a thin contract at Green Dot in Los Angeles. Charter school teachers do not receive tenure protection or seniority employment rights—for the most part they are “at-will” employees. Many local charter schools pay for teacher performance, and do not use the traditional “step and column” (years and units beyond a BA degree) to determine compensation.

Teacher unions and other public employee unions play a very vital role in representing the middle class workers in America. Robert Reich, the former Labor Secretary now at UC Berkeley, wrote on Feb. 23: “Demonizing of public employees is not only based on the lie that they’ve caused these budget crises, but it’s also premised on a second lie that public employees earn more than private-sector workers.
They don’t when you take account of their education. In fact, over the last 15 years, the pay of public-sector workers, including teachers, has dropped relative to private-sector employees with the same level of education—even including health and retirement benefits.”

As Reich points out, the Wisconsin state budget crisis was not caused by the unions but by the Great Recession, which was caused by illegal gambits by Wall Street traders and hedge-fund managers. Their bailout was financed by us, they middle-class taxpayers. According to Reich the top thirteen hedge fund managers in the US earned an average of $1 billion each last year. The average teacher in Wisconsin is compensated at $52,644 per year.

The time for Silicon Valley school leaders to start talking collectively and cooperatively about a 2011-and-beyond version of a collectively bargained contract is right now.  Unfortunately, I see or hear of no local leadership willing to risk the dialogue.  It is my hope that the teacher unions will lead the way and not wait any longer. The time to look at negotiated contracts relative to tenure, seniority and pay for performance is now.

So far what I see and hear is local superintendents and school board members who are too sheepish to bring these topics up in their initial proposals. We must be in front of the curve on this one and not behind the curve otherwise we will be taken down by an angry revolt of the public. We cannot let that happen if we care about the future of public education and what is best for our children. In fact, many comments here have indicated a willingness to vote for increased funds for public education if these aforementioned reforms are implemented. Many of you have said you will not vote for another dollar for public schools until they are.

President Obama and Governor Brown must continue to give strong voice for the important role unions play in keeping American strong with a vibrant middle class. The top 1 percent of Americans’ net worth is 35 percent of the total net worth of all Americans. Twenty percent of Americans hold 85 percent of the nation’s total net worth. Without strong unions to represent middle-class jobs, we will continue to migrate inextricably toward an oligarchy and away from our democratic roots.

Joseph Di Salvo is a member of the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Board of Trustees. He is a San Jose native. His columns reflect his personal opinion and can be found weekly on San Jose Inside.

53 Comments

  1. Your argument that unions protect the “middle class” ” is weak at best and wrong at worst unless you mean the ” union middle and upper class”  based on government employees high wages and pensions

    What have unions done lately for non union workers

    – nothing except make US less competitive because of higher taxes, unreasonable anti competitive union work rules and anti business policies while taking more and more taxes with higher taxes this year from taxpayers going to union workers

    Unions do not help public which they are supposed to serve but Unions help themselves to higher pay from taxpayers

    Other workers get scr*wed again and again by both Big Businesses and Big Labor

    Labor elected Obama who bailed out banks, teachers, government workers and auto company’s which did not help non union workers only union workers

  2. Let me first say, I am liberal and not a Republican. This isnt political for me. Lets just talk about unions for what they are. I have seen first hand how unions work both in construction and the casino industry – these institutions are absolutely horrible to be associated with for both employer and employees. If the majority of Americans knew what went on behind close doors (filthy, threatening language – dirty, undermining lies – intimidation of members – lazy workers negotiating for 3 day work weeks, over the top benefits and ridiculous demands they call “collective bargaining”) these unscrupulous, uneducated, overpaid union leader goons would be on the street with no job at all. Unions are destroying the work place morle and contributing to the loss of jobs in America. When will someone expose these thugs for what they are? I have no desire to be defined by trashy, greedy unions and proud that I have always “earned” my pay and respect. Why do these union industries feel such a sense of entitlement? WAKE UP!! We are no longer living in the 1930s.

  3. As Reich points out, the Wisconsin state budget crisis was not caused by the unions but by the Great Recession, which was caused by illegal gambits by Wall Street traders and hedge-fund managers. Their bailout was financed by us, they middle-class taxpayers. According to Reich the top thirteen hedge fund managers in the US earned an average of $1 billion each last year. The average teacher in Wisconsin is compensated at $52,644 per year.

    Jeebus, Mr. DiSalvo.  You actually expect us to look at that statistic and draw a conclusion as to who is at fault with public education funding?

    You take the most extreme possible example of corporate largesse (“the top thirteen hedge fund managers”) and try to draw a comparison with the “average teacher in Wisconsin”?  To call that comparison “apples and oranges” does a disservice to both the apples and the oranges.

    Like it or not, the free market has decided for itself the relative pay scales between hedge fund managers (to use your example) and teachers.  None of us is born into a caste system.  People who go into education know full well what the pay scale is, as well as what would be the educational requirements for that job. 

    It is unseemly for teachers’ unions at this time to demand even more public money and benefit protection when they knew, going in, what the pay scale would be. 

    Those teachers who are dissatisfied with the compensation package that goes in with being a teacher are free to explore other opportunities – but I am told that there are very few opportunities out there that provide for a guarantee of employment after having worked a minimal amount of time (a/k/a tenure), or are there many jobs out there that will provide a defined-benefit pension. 

    There is one elephant in the room that none of the pro-union people are talking about though, and that is the fact that very often, the teachers’ unions give large amounts of campaign donations and in-kind benefits (canvassing, etc.) to candidates of local school boards, who would then be sitting across the table from those very same unions when it comes time for contract negotiations. 

    Conflict, meet interest.  Interest, conflict.

    The banning of public sector unions cannot come soon enough.

    • Well said SS. It’d be hard to state the case more accurately or articulately. Unfortunately DiSalvo and his education industry cohorts are impervious to things like logic, fairness, and common sense. They’re too deeply invested in the status quo.

  4. A few years ago California had a Governator who challenged the Unions . He tried everything as to compare to what’s going on in Wisconsin. He tried take certain rights away from unions .  Union’s at best are their worst enemies . Union members often vote against their union bosses recommendations, and later bitch about the result . We had eight years of Gov. Schwarzenegger , we had the opportunity to vote him out , and instead   he got reelected on the help as well as the backs of union members .

    The Bold Move in Wisconsin by it’s Governor is vary big , he is going against the establishment . It’s all about privatization of public sector jobs . Taking away collective bargaining rights of unions effects all of us regardless . It leads to ‘lower wages’ and cheap labor that evolves to ‘collective bidding ’ . You wont find a teacher that will work under any kind of conditions with a contract that certain rights under collective bargaining were taken away .

    Gov. Schwarzenegger ‘s legacy in California was a total failure because attacked union’s , the same people that gave him the vote .

    A lesson to Governor of Wisconsin .

  5. I think that this is a fair and balanced assessment. Being new to the teaching career (and fairly ignorant still), I jumped on the bandwagon and start demoralizing teachers unions. While I still do not have a strong opinion for or against unions I am all for a mutual understanding and a willingness to talk. I hope that many of us do not “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” While I am sure that I will disagree with standpoints that the union takes I hope that they also impress me with their ability to look to the future and make significant changes.

  6. > Many individuals who post comments to this weekly column show a propensity to dislike teacher unions and blame them for the crisis in public education.

    ME! ME! ME!

    OVER HERE JOE!!!

    IT’S ME!!

    IT’S TEACHABLE MOMENT!!!

  7. “Gov. Schwarzenegger‘s legacy in California was a total failure because ( he ) attacked union’s”

    Today the public and taxpayers can clearly see that government employees union abuses of public trust and unfairness of early age 75-90% government excessive employee benefits and pensions

    Unions got excessive pay, benefits and pension by electing politicians who violated their public duty and trust when they politically paid back campaign contributions with government employees excessive pay, benefits and pensions that taxpayers could not afford

    City Managers, state administrators and Judges were also bought off, had clear conflict of interest,  violated their public duty to inform public and public trust when they recommended to City Council and state government and accepted higher pay, benefits and excessive pensions

  8. Why is it wrong to dislike those who abuse the education of our children and place welfare of union teachers above our children and abuse public education system ?

    Most teachers are honest, caring individuals looking out for welfare and education of our children

    Union leadership is not and that is what public is upset about and voicing it low opinion of teachers unions

  9. It’s not about the children.  It’s about power.  Here it directly from the union bosses.

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=7f5_1285637004

    “When school children start paying union dues, that ‘s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”

    “It’s time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody’s role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It’s no surprise that our school system doesn’t improve: It more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy.”

    Albert Shanker, president of American Federation of Teachers

    “Teacher unions (CTA and CFT), California School Employee Associations (CSEA), and Service Employee International Union (SEIU) play an important role…”

    And that role is to fund leftwing political operations and serve as jackboots on the ground.  The “purple people beaters” is not a misnomer.

    DiSalvo, you have no cred.  Absolutely none.  Nothing but a straight up apparatchik.

  10. It makes me sad (and says a great deal about our country’s values) that teachers are not being supported in this battle.  As stated above, the private sector is bringing in much more money in paychecks and pensions than the teachers unions.  It is a well known fact that teachers do not make much money, so why are they the ones being targeted for the problems in this state? When was the last time a teacher was being featured on Cribs or TMZ? I agree that the unions need to be modernized, but being completed ripped to pieces is not the answer.  Has anyone looked at the pensions of city workers? There are low-level politicians whose salaries dwarf those of people who are being charged with preparing future generations for taking over our country. It is very clear that the teacher’s union needs to start publicizing their policies, funds, and doing very public compare and contrasts of their pensions to employees in the public sector.

    • It’s easy to blame someone else, point fingers at leaders and feel down about our country’s issues today. I admit I don’t enjoy listening to the news because rarely do I get to hear a good story that makes my day. As I’m about to decide on wether or not to enter the teaching field I realize now it’s vitally important for me to do my research and fully understand our public policies. I’ve heard positive and negative arguments for unions and I feel like I need to gain more knowledge before I make an informed decision however, in the fast-paced changing economy, anything that remains static will fall behind. We have to change to keep up with the world we live in.

  11. My father was part of the SEIU for years and he was very proud of it so I grew up thinking that Unions were good. I was part of the CSEA, and can quite honestly say I was just giving them my money and receiving a pamphlet every couple of months and phone calls come election time about who I need to vote for to “support” the Union. My observations about the CTA is that the brattiest, laziest, most entitled teachers are the ones who fanatically support it and are the representatives. While I don’t believe that they need to completely disappear, I do think that the system has be be changed and that there are some issues that need to be looked into and revised in order for the public to once again be on the side of the teacher.

    • I could totally agree with you Karla. I was part of the CSEA and basically I just gave them money in results of receiving pamphlets stating they would take care of us. I also grew up thinking that Unions were a good thing since my mother has always been part of a union and always said positive things of her union. There are a lot of issues that need to be revised as to what the Unions serve and do. We do not want Unions that are benefiting us as future teachers of tomorrow.

  12. I’m struggling to come up with one example of public school kids benefiting from their teacher being unionized.  I see the benefit for the teachers… but what’s in it for the kids (or the taxpayers)?

      • > I’m guessing that happy teachers produce better academic instruction for the kids.

        Gosh!

        I would have thought that competent teachers would provide better academic instruction.

        Maybe we should eliminate all of the teacher credentialing baloney and assign every teacher a happiness guru.

        • Happiness does make someone better at there job.

          But there are much more important things unions do for children.  Unions bargain over classroom conditions like safety and class size.  These directly effect student welfare.

          Also, take my home city of Milwaukee where 50% of teachers quit in the first five years.  If it where the private sector, what would a company do if half their workforce was leaving?  They would raise pay.  Without the union, compensation goes down.  Simple economics tells us this is the wrong way to go about attracting and retaining good teachers.

  13. “As Reich points out, the Wisconsin state budget crisis was not caused by the unions but by the Great Recession, which was caused by illegal gambits by Wall Street traders and hedge-fund managers. Their bailout was financed by us, they middle-class taxpayers. “

    Pro union Reich forgot to tell you that President Obama, Treasury Department financial advisors formerly Wall Street Bankers and Democratic Congress spent billions bailing out unionized government workers and automobile companies which did not help average US middle class worker with 12% unemployment, only helped bailout union government workers

    Also Oboma, Democratic Congress and Democratic Wall Street Treasury officials made many mistakes in federal bailouts There was no requirements on Banks as condition of bailouts to make credit available to businesses and not raise consumer and business loan and credit card rates and requirements

    Banks made billions in profits after federal bailout from very low Federal Reserve loan rates while charging businesses and consumers 15-20% interest rates rather than helping fix bad economy that Banks, Congress and Obama’s poorly structured bailout caused to be longer

    Congress passed the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act laws the started mortgage crisis by requiring banks and Fannie Mae to loan to less credit worthy low income individuals under community banking law which with Congressional lack of Bank regulation, illegal bank behavior, reckless greed caused mortgage meltdown and bad economy

  14. I’m with you Joe. We should punish these anti-union heretics. They should be burned at the stake just like those medeival non-believers who thought that the Earth was not the center of the universe.
    We high priests of Education define the Truth. We CARE the most. And besides that we’ve read lots of studies.

    • > We should punish these anti-union heretics. They should be burned at the stake . . . .

      Dear Vilify:

      You make some good points.

      I definitely would not like being burned at the stake.

      Maybe union educators aren’t so bad after all.

      In fact, I’m sure that they DO care about the children.

  15. As the granddaughter of a union negotiator I was raised to be pro union. I remain so to this day. My grandfather negotiated fair wages and ensured that individuals who belonged to the machinist and aeronautics union. He helped to establish unions in factories where none existed. That being said in his lifetime there has been a shift for the worse in how unions are opperating. He will be the first to agree that many unions are being run improperly. However, what unions represent is the idea that workers are afforded the right to collectively bargain. They were also created with intent to protect the worker from unfair treatment at the hands of their employer. I’ve seen firsthand the appalling level of abusive treatment that workers endure when there is no union to advocate for them. Macy’s is one such company. I was employed at their Capitola store for 3 yrs and I quit because my manager refused to honor the contract we agreed upon and signed regarding my being scheduled to work around my school schedule. This came as no surprise since this was the same manager I witnessed chasing an employee into the parking lot and grabbing hold of her arm to prevent her from leaving. Sure Macy’s had a human resources department but many of us soon discovered that they existed to cover managements collective ass. I agree that the unions are far from perfect. Reform is needed. No institution that serves the public’s needed should remain stagnant. Doing away with the unions altogether is not the answer, although it may seem like that is the quickest, easiest solution. We all know this country loves a quick fix. Unions need to become open to the idea of change and need to remain vigilant against corruption. Hopefully they can become something my grandfather can be proud of once again.

  16. “As Reich points out, the Wisconsin state budget crisis was not caused by the unions but by the Great Recession, which was caused by illegal gambits by Wall Street traders and hedge-fund managers. Their bailout was financed by us, they middle-class taxpayers. According to Reich the top thirteen hedge fund managers in the US earned an average of $1 billion each last year.”
    Let me use a bit of poor vernacular here: I am HELLA all about anyone, at anytime, in this country making mad cash and rolling in benjis!! Yah for them, seriously. Bring it. Ahem, that being said, I adhere to the quote, (dare I use a quote from a religious text?) “To whom much is given, much is required.” Therefore, those who do have a lot, must also use great responsibility and care, integrity and wisdom. Unfortunately, that just “ain’t” happening. While I am using the example of greedy fund managers, this same philosophy can be applied to our union leaders. Greed, whether in the private or public sector, just never works out in the end. I agree that moderation and recalibration of our union system is at hand. When heavy winds blow,it is the tree that bends which stands in the end..just sayin’…

  17. “Teachers’ Unions Should Not be Demonized, but Must Face the Future”

    Yes they should Teacher’s union’s actions and attitudes deserve to be demonized and vilified by everyone

    BUT not teachers who are mostly decent, hardworking and caring individuals under appreciated by many.

    Teachers, teachers unions, students, parents and public must face a future of doing more and better education with less taxes

    Parents and taxpayers will have more control over how taxpayers funded public education system will be run

    Teachers unions and government control has produced costly and poor results unacceptable to public

    That is now the new normal for California public education

  18. “We must be in front of the curve on this one and not behind the curve…” I completely agree with this thought.  Unions are an essential organization for teachers; but should mold and change according to present day policies and needs.  Taking a proactive role is vital for successful unions that strive for the benefit of hard working people.  Teachers must be accountable for their work and accomplishments in the classroom and compensated accordingly.

  19. I agree with you Mr. Disalvo.  Unions were built and still are in place to protect the laymen in the work force.  The most negative quality that the Unions possess in my eyes is that they enforce tenure with teachers that should not be able to teach.  Otherwise, I feel that Unions are positive things and that they may be necessary to protect teachers.

    • Victoria,

      You took the words right out of my head. I completely agree with you on that the purpose of teacher unions is to protect teachers but some things need to be reevaluated and adjusted, as does everything.

    • Unions serve an important purpose, such as collective bargaining.  However, I am not impressed with how the teacher’s union is run.  Tenure is not in the best interest of the students or the teachers.  Teachers should be held accountable for their performance and not rely on years of service and additional education.  Perhaps the solution is to reorganize the teacher’s union into a more progressive system that focuses on improving the educational system and holding all members accountable for their performance.

  20. I think there is good and bad in the union structure. (much like any organization) I don’t think the solution is to throw the baby out with the bath water.  There are definite pros for having collective bargaining rights.  An earlier comment asked “what’s in it for the kids?”  The answer is simple… happy, well paid teachers = better educators teaching our youth.  One of the problems with the teaching profession is that for some it’s a fall back occupation.  The pay is not competitive enough to attract the best and the brightest.  Don’t get me wrong there are many highly qualified teachers out there, but they didn’t go into the profession for the money or respect.  Far too often I see and speak with people who would have liked to be teachers and would have been great ones, but for them the allure of a better paying job was too strong.  As I said there are things in the union structire that should be changed.  Accepting change and a willingness to compromise and be reasonable is one of them.  I feel that this holds for both sides of the equation.  School districts, government, and the people at large have to realize that you get what you pay for and if we want to see great gains in the education of youth one of the most important first steps would be increased teacher pay.  Let’s make it a competitive field, where the best and brightest are going after the jobs. If we can find a way to ensure that when a person graduates from high school he/she is able to find a good trade job, or be adequately prepared for college then the reduction in crime would be in direct correlation with that fact.  This has been proven countless times.  The next realization is that equals less money spent on prisons, freeing money for better paid teachers.  The problem is the money needs to be invested in the teachers first, and it would be some time before a return on investment would be seen.  I don’t have numbers to back up this assertion, but my hunch is that the overall monetary benefit would eventually be greater than the outlay of funds.  More over, think of the benefit of having a well educated population.  I don’t think I could place a dollar sign on that.

  21. Here’s the scope yall’
    Our Superintendent came over to our school and gave a power point presentation on the state of our district and finances . Certainly bleak, if Gov. Brown’s tax extensions plans don’t pass.
    Drastic cuts are on the helm…………..
    Here is the hoopla . Gov. Browns extensions to taxes have to be sent to Sacramento via a petition drive to get them on the June Ballot . The Superintendent urged us (educator’s and alike ) to call your legislators !
    Yep . So there has to be a petition going for that special election . Did any one know?

    Second back to Wisconsin . Wisconsin pays per pupil $11,021 and it ranks 17 on k-12 expenditures . While California is 43rd at 8,322 on spending . The state of Utah is 51st on k-12 spending with 5,912 .
    Go figure in Wisconsin how much a teacher earns ?

  22. Teachers, as well as all other workers, need the support of a union and deserve the rights of collective bargaining.  Although that is the purpose of teacher unions today, they are not going about supporting teachers in the right way.  I have heard countless stories about teachers under scrutiny (and for good reason) walking away with only a slap on the wrist.  They did not deserve to stay in the classroom but managed to do so because of their support from the union.  Something needs to change.  What needs to change and how?  I’m not exactly sure.

  23. Teacher’s unions, like most unions, are very important in protecting the workers’ rights, pay, and benefits. However, there does need to be a modernization of the union that accounts job performance and other factors in terms of tenure and layoffs. It is unfair that many new quality teachers are laid off and other teachers who are no longer performing well can remain instead. Overall, the teachers should not be attacked for being a part of a union for their protection, but modernization of the union and accountability is something that should be heavily looked at.

    • Jamie,

      I completely agree with you. The purpose of the union is to protect the rights of the workers. Teachers have the right to be a part of the union. They want rights and benefits and they should have these things. However, changes in the union should be made. The union shouldn’t be taken away it just needs to be updated.

  24. Like a few people have mentioned in response to this blog, something that sticks out to me specifically is the factor of tenure.  It has been touched upon here how times have changed – with these changes, education has changed.  If you look at a 55- or 60-year-old teacher – the world has changed so much from when they first started teaching.  Educators need to keep up with this change – technology and just the overall way the world functions.  I’m not saying that older teachers cannot get the job done, however, there is a great amount of new teachers that can do the job much more efficiently and to a better degree.  If an older teacher isn’t meeting the standards – tenure should not determine whether or not students get to receive an education up to standards.

    • I agree with Jamie.  I believe that unions are important to have in protecting the rights of the teachers, and other hard working individuals. While I believe that Unions are important, I have to agree that there needs to be modernization done.  Tenure is one of the major factors that sticks out to me. It is one thing to have elderly teachers who have been teaching for 30+ years who are trying to improve and learn the new ways of education, and then it’s another thing for elderly teachers who are stuck in their own ways of teaching. I believe that this is a major issue that needs to be fixed.

    • I totally agree with you Jamie. It’s necessary to make changes which are only for the best, I think. Keeping up with the new is a must. Even from the 90s until now so much has changed in the classrooms (with technology too!), and that wasn’t even too long ago. If you’re style or knowledge is out-of-datem you definitely need to keep up with the times, research what’s new in schools, attend meetings- do whatever it takes to make sure things can get done to a better degree, like you said Jamie. This whole tenure thing is good for those who have it already, but not so much “fun” for the rest of us.

  25. I don’t know much about unions and how they have been involved in our society for as long as unions have been around. For that matter, there isn’t much that I can say in regards to this matter, and definitely am unable to give any sort of educated response, solution, or argument in this matter.

    Interestingly enough though, I have only heard bad things about unions. For example, I’ve been told that unions are good because they can help teachers, but at the same time, they can be bad because they don’t always benefit the teachers. The example was given that unions were giving money to different causes that were not related to education, when in fact, those funds could have been used towards our educational system.

    So, what great benefits does one exactly get from the union?

  26. “The time to look at negotiated contracts relative to tenure, seniority and pay for performance is now.” 

    I agree with this statement.  I think it’s ridiculous to give pink slips to enthusiastic, positive, productive teachers just because they haven’t been teaching as long as another teacher who isn’t enthusiastic, positive, and productive.

    • You read my mind, Gayle. Teachers should be kept based on their effectiveness, not the number of years they’ve been teaching.

      • I agree with Gayle as well.  Teachers should be evaluated by their performance, not by how long they have been teaching.

    • I also agree with Gayle. We should start evaluating ALL teachers no matter how long they have been teaching or working at the school. Plus some districts look at test scores which are skewed due to many different factors then they (the district) base their decision on how each student did on the test. I think this is ridiculous in so many ways. But I think that if we can make teachers not afraid to lose their jobs because they are not teaching to a test and let them teach children what they are suppose to teach them, then assess all the teachers from there, then that would make it fair for all the teachers.

  27. “Where I diverge with the unions is when they demonstrate a belief that things can stay just as they have been for 30 years in this unceasingly changing world. Change is the new constant.” I do not know too much about the pros and cons of unions, but as a general rule I do believe that it is important to be open to change and willing to move with the times. I feel that all sides need to be open to compromise in order to move forward and right now I believe the unions seem to be unable to progress with the times.

  28. As a teacher in the making, I am not sure if I have yet formed a strong opinion in favor for or against the unions. But, I do agree with the bog that change is essential & teacher unions need to be reformed.  The issues of tenure & seniority need some attention. It is disheartening sometimes to learn that a teacher with the least experience is the one to be laid off even though she may be very good at what she does & is more competent than a teacher who is being teaching for 30 years.

    • Kajal-

      I completely agree with everything you said in your post! I don’t think it is fair how young, extremely qualified,  teachers get laid off before older teachers just because they have less experience. Yes, experience in teaching is incredibly important but nowadays, the younger teachers are learning newer, more relevant ways of teaching based on recent studies that have been published. It is difficult for an older, more experienced teacher to change their way of teaching since they have been doing it for so long. I think that the younger teachers bring something new and different to the table, which could very well be more beneficial to today’s students. I think that if a teacher is going to be laid off, it should be based on how good of a teacher they are, not because of seniority.

      Allie

  29. I have never been involved in a union, but my family has for years. They say good things about them, then again, you give them money to protect your rights and then they don’t deliver when its needed. Unions are supposed to protect and not spend money outrageously and provid sufficient backing when needed by anyone under the union. Unions have become a big endorsers for politicians over the years. Shouldn’t that money be used wisely for other important things like pension funds and help the employees under the union receive better benifits and employee rights instead of wasting money on politicians, money that the union employees put every check to help them protect them. Some people may not realice what their own union is doing with their own money. Unions should protect their workers and spend the money wisely.

  30. I do agree with Mr. Di Salvo that the teachers union has done a lot of good for the profession, but they also have the propensity to resist change. Watching the movie “Waiting for superman” gave me the impression that the teachers union is doing more harm than good, especially when it comes to children’s education. I think that the union needs to re-enact changes within the organization to keep up with the demands of students needs’.

  31. Like many say, unions should not be done away with altogether. They should, however, be changed in order to be more fair and beneficial to both teachers and students. As many have stated, the problem boils down to teachers who are unqualified and incompetent receiving tenure while teachers who are competent are being laid off because of their lack of “experience”. This is not to say that some who receive tenure are not good teachers or are not deserving of the benefits they receive. However, there are many who have taken advantage of the system and it is hurting both the good teachers and our kids. There can be no quality education until this changes.

  32. I agree that unions are essential. Without unions on the past a large percent of the workforce would not have the benefits we all take for granted. I also agree that unions need to change. Similar to our education system, their principles were built on the needs of its time. Times have changed, yet unions don’t appear to have changed. While I am not an expert in how unions work, I have been exposed enough to see that the way they currently run are inefficient. A change is needed so union employees are protected, but in a way that benefits everyone involved.

  33. Unions are essential, but they must change their method of operation, starting with getting rid of too much protection for inefficient teachers.

  34. I understand that unions are important to insure that workers treated fairly.  I also know that unions are also there to fight for employee rights.  But I think a few changes to the system could be made to help it function better but at the present I am not totally sure what kind of changes should be made as I have no experience with unions.

  35. Unions have been essential to protecting the rights of employees in education but the truth is that they can be used for the benefit of the weak, even bad teacher just as much as for the great teachers they were created for.  The cost and difficulties of releasing a teacher for poor performance is excruciating.  Unions are important but must adapt to the times and show clear responsibility for those they represent.