Viewer email about teachers’ unions – I thought it fair to present this email

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Email from a viewer:

Your opinion about teachers’ unions is off base and I am sick of the warped presentation of this professional organization.    I was a teacher for 35.5 years and think I know a little more than those of you not in the profession.

  1. In the first place, they are professional associations…NOT UNIONS!  I don’t hear you demean the American Medical Association or the American Bar association like you and other PC pundits do with the National Teachers’ Association.
  1. The purpose of a “teachers’ association” is to protect the rights of teachers and to lobby for their benefits.  That is their main job.  They also take positions on educational issues, but their main purpose is to look out for teachers rights and benefits.  Why are they badmouthed for doing this by you and other political figures and journalists?  Do other professional organizations and unions do any less?  Teachers are often accused by parents and students of behaviors that are false and need such protection and defense.  It is the job of the local school boards and school superintendants to set  educational policies and see to it that students are achieving, not the professional associations for teachers.
  1. It is easy to blame teachers and teacher associations for the problems with today’s educational success or lack thereof.  However, this is an extremely unfair over-simplification of the reason for the decline in test scores and such today.  Is it fair to hold the teacher or the school system responsible for the success or failure of another person?  I don’t think so.   I cannot be responsible for what another person does or does not do. Can you?   What about the responsibility of the students for their own success? What about the responsibility and the educational level of their parents?  What about the lax cultural attitudes of today with decreased work ethics and the over-arching mindset of getting something for doing nothing?  What about the decline of the family structure?  Does that not count?  Can teachers and their associations really be totally accountable for another’s effort and success or lack of success?  I think not!
  1. Tenure is not a bad word, and is NOT impossible to fire teachers.  Tenure only gives teachers some degree protection after two years of successful experience by establishing the fact that they have now proven themselves and cannot be fired WITHOUT DUE CAUSE.  Would you rather have them dismissed on false claims without due process?  I think the public is naive about the number of false claims made about teachers.  They need to be protected from unfair dismissals without proof of malpractice.   Teachers are observed and evaluated several times a year by their principals and a written report of those evaluations are entered into their file as well as records of complaints.  Teachers can be fired, but it is a careful and just process requiring sufficient proof…as is the case with any accusation of wrongdoing or crime.

It’s time for those outside the educational profession to stop the scapegoating school systems and teachers who are trying to do the best they can with a difficult situation.  Those outside the field need to stop expounding their half-baked, over-simplified opinions on educational issues  about which they have no expertise.  Educational success is a multi-faceted thing, and the fact that it deals with people makes it more complicated.  One person cannot be responsible for the success of another.  A lot of factors enter into whether or not a student achieves.   The teachers and their professional associations are only part of the picture and cannot be held totally accountable for the outcomes of another.  They can only be held accountable for whether or not  appropriate teaching methods and reinforcement are being done.  The rest is up to the student.