Monday, October 2, 2017

Equity in Educational Management by Michael Morton

Doesn’t it seem to be a paradox that school boards and administrations can hold a teacher certificate over the heads of educational professionals (even when they themselves are charged with ethics violations)? Threatened with wage increment withholdings, additional mandatory trainings (on personal time), required commitment to extra-curricular activities, forced compliance with arbitrary policy, and the list goes on….
It’s hard to find leadership that lead with integrity. 
Fifteen years ago, I was hired as a special ed teacher with minimal teaching experience and no special ed certificate. And although I only had experience working with children, I was clearly the ideal candidate because I was passionate about my role in the community. I was hired, but I recognized that my accountability was to the community and not simply to a few administrators. For three years I administered standardized test under the auspice that my failure to comply will result in loss of a teacher certificate (that I had not yet obtained). I was non-tenured and vulnerable. And yet I stood proud BEFORE I recognized the strength of my union.  
I have earned my appropriate teacher certificates. My woes of classroom teaching are not confined to my weariness of teaching students whose parents are not engaged. Instead I spent a lot of time reflecting on the demise of public education. Something is failing, and it’s not at the hands of the educators but in the hands of the administrators, the politicians, and the state boards of education. And charters ARE NOT the answer.  
The unions and the teaching associations are already preparing for the Supreme Court decision that allows association members the ability to choose whether or not they will support the unions efforts. Collectively we have watched the bargaining ability of educators across the nation suffer a similar demise. When right to negotiate our working conditions and our abilities to grieve contract infractions removed, the presence of quality education will be reduced.
And so how do we really prepare for this eminent future? The teaching associations are planning precisely how they will convince/reaffirm educators that we have power in numbers. They will emphasize the importance of collective-bargaining and the value of union negotiating. But for many educators who have overlooked the value of their unions, the battle is already lost. They will be the first to relinquish their bargaining rights and likely the first on the chopping blocks when reductions-in-force occur. For them there will be no sense of unity.  
For the rest of us, we will need to learn to stand up for ourselves in hope and prayer that we too are not picked off one-by-one. Our abilities will be transformed. We will no longer be just educators. We will become our own negotiators. We will be selective in what we grieve. And we will find ourselves standing for increased occurrences of injustice (instead of standing up for all that is right and moral for our students, their families, and our communities). We will be forced to choose between what is right for ourselves and what is right for our students.

Collectively we will be… individuals. Standing alone, we will develop new skills in coping with far more than just lesson plans, grades, standards, and professional development. Because we didn’t stand up when we could, we will be required to fight on our own.  
How will you prepare for the transformation?  

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