This is my first blog post. Not sure why I chose this topic but, at the moment, it has me fired up. I looked at a site today that is designed to tear away the protections teachers have – the protections teachers and administrators have worked so hard to build. I won’t post the link to the site here as it would be an advertisement for the propoganda that is spun there. It is shrouded in the notion that it wants to help teachers by freeing them of unions. Basically, this site in question says that teachers should not have the right to strike because they are public servants and it deprives children of the right to an education.
Let me start off first with how I share a common belief with this site. I believe, like this site, that children DO have a right to education – and a good education at that. Educating our youth is perhaps one of the single most important jobs in existence. Why? Because education enhances our ability to compete globally. Past Presidents, including our current, say that improving our education system is important for maintaining our economy and our global status as a world leader. Without teachers, we all suffer.
However, I have a fundamental difference with this website. This website claims that strikes hurt the education of our children. While that seems logical and can generate intense emotional debate, I can’t agree with that basic premise. Looking at the proposed legislation of this site leads me to believe the true motivation come from a foundation that thinks citizens pay too much taxes to education, one that thinks teachers make too much money because they don’t work all summer, one that thinks teachers have too much protection, one that doesn’t understand or appreciate the important services unions provide.
Yes, the fact is that unions are there to protect teachers. That is what they are designed for. There is nothing to argue there. Unions, however, go the extra mile by being aware of how teacher strikes affect children. They work hard to avoid and reduce strikes by teachers.
Strikes do not hurt education as some might think. Unions do not hurt education. They strengthen it! Here is why. Unions are there to make sure that teachers can do their jobs without having to worry about salary, working conditions, benefits, retirement, law suits and other legal issues. Beyond that, local unions even provide scholarships to students. Since teachers are public servants, they need to have a voice. Unions are that voice. Silencing this voice compromises quality education.
Parents, teachers, students and citizens, I encourage you to consider the negative effects that having no teacher union or representation would have. Public education is supported by taxes. Schools are not designed to make a profit. They are a service-based institution. Administrators and boards are thus inherently encouraged to use money most efficiently and to save it wherever possible. I can’t blame them. I would do the same thing. Boards are under enormous pressure from their constituents to cut budgets and to keep expenses in check. There must be equal and effective pressure to increase budgets and to improve education. Who is that voice? Teachers and their unions!
The site mentioned at the beginning of this rant would like us to believe that strikes are somehow always done frivolously and without purpose – that unions and teachers just can’t wait for a strike. It would also like us to believe that teachers somehow have a gun to the head of boards or administrators. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is that strikes are no fun for anyone. In addition, strikes are not just a retaliation for not getting what is asked for. Strikes always have to be a last resort. Strikes always have to have a legitimate reason – reasons, by the way, that are not always salary related. Strikes simply give teachers the power to be able to negotiate.
Protect education by protecting teachers and unions. We want our children to have quality education. We want quality teachers. We want teachers who are dedicated to their profession. We want teachers who are fully focused on our children when in the classroom. We don’t want teachers preoccupied, afraid of litigation or willing to leave the profession for more money or better working conditions. Teachers are an invaluable resource for our children. Empower them and they will empower our children!