Monday, November 28, 2016

My Union
By:  Anonymous Teacher

There's been a a lot of talk lately about busting teachers unions, and how unions help "bad teachers" keep their jobs. I've worked in non-union schools and have been in a union in a public school since 2000. I can say without a doubt that it is FAR easier to be an advocate for kids in a union school. So I thought I would take a minute to list out the ways my union has helped me stand up for kids.

1- When I was teaching inclusion and my principal decided to start pulling me on a regular basis to cover classes (because of lack of subs), my union stepped in on my behalf and put a stop to it (thus ensuring my students' IEPs were not violated).

2-Same principal lied about me and tried to get me in huge trouble with the superintendent while I was fighting for 1:1 aide services during lunch, recess, and gym for a child with a visual impairment. (I honestly believe this whole crazy mess was retribution for going to the union about being pulled to cover classes).

3-Different principal wanted me to test prep my self-contained students. When I refused he started watching me like a hawk, looking for every tiny mistake I made and threatening to write me up. Same principal told me that my kids were not successful because I "didn't believe in them". My union stepped in and protected my right to run my classroom as I saw fit (again, ensuring that IEP goals were addressed and time was not wasted on useless test prep).

4-My union made it possible to testify in front of the state legislators about the impact of high stakes testing on my special needs students.

5-My union made it possible for me to speak again about high stakes testing in front of the state chancellor, regents, and legislators at the John King roadshow at local high school (name of school deleted to protect identity of the teacher).

6-My union made it possible for me to speak about the impact of common core on my students at the CC task farce (aka force) hearing at a local university (name of university deleted to protect identity of the teacher).

Do unions protect teachers? Of course. But teachers protect kids. I would have stood up for my kids in all these situations regardless. But if I didn't have my union protection, I honestly believe I would have been fired after the first two. In the second example, my principal was laying the groundwork to get me out.

We really need to stop perpetuating the "failing schools", "bad teachers", "greedy unions" narrative. All it does is play into the hands of the education reformers that are just looking to make a quick buck off our kids

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