As an aspiring teacher himself, GenFKD fellow Andrew Walker takes a serious interest in the future of education. That’s why he wrote an open letter to teachers unions, one meant to praise their accomplishments while also honestly acknowledging their flaws.
My dear teachers unions,
You’ve had such a difficult time trying to stay afloat. You’ve been around since 1916, when Chicago teachers decided that educators — specifically those teaching grade and secondary schools — needed protection. Since then, you’ve gone through trials and tribulations in an attempt to stay on your feet and stay an actual entity in the eyes of unions.
You’ve dealt with angry parents and politicians that believe that you’re only harming the quality of our teachers, blocking beneficial education reform and stopping the United States from being internationally competitive.
You’ve jumped over the countless obstacles the Obama administration has thrown at you, whether it’s the massive pile of testing — on both the student and teacher side — from No Child Left Behind or the competitive hassle of Race to the Top. Your life is being threatened, and no one really seems to be helping you fight.
You have teachers protesting for you in Detroit and Chicago. They seem to think you’re important, the teachers. You offer them a lot of benefits that seem to really help them out, especially when teaching (both primary and secondary) tends to top the lists of lowest-paying college majors, and they appreciate it. You make sure the teachers have something to lean on. Rather, you make sure teachers have something on which to lean. (You’re welcome, English teachers.)
You aren’t all shiny apples and snow days, though. Tenure is a pretty touchy subject when it comes to teachers unions. Teachers themselves are divided on the subject. On one hand, it really helps talented teachers, the ones that challenge themselves and their students, keep their jobs. On the other, it protects Mr. Marra, the biology professor who has worked so long that he can just show movies and expect kids to do well in his test-only class, from getting fired over his subpar student progression data.
Look, teachers unions. You have a good heart. You really want to be there for teachers and protect them in a field that can be incredibly dangerous for job security. Teachers like you a lot and support you fully, but still recognize that there might be a few flaws. Let teachers like Mr. Marra go. They don’t belong in schools anyway. And if your sole purpose is to help teachers, ditching the bum ones will only help garner the support of those so vehemently opposed to you. At least a little.
A confused and slightly worried student teacher