May 15, 2006

Lowell Sun Article

Good teachers would fare better without unions
The Lowell Sun

There is a profession in which the practitioners do not have true freedom to chose their employer and still retain recognition for their years of experience as is the case in most every other profession.

The practitioners claim they wish to be treated as professionals, yet the body they have chosen to represent them refuses to allow the freedom of movement among employers that is afforded people of similar education in other professions.

It is a profession in which a person with 15 years of experience can receive almost no recognition in the form of salary for that experience if he or she moves to a different employer. This is built into the "contract" negotiated by the group whom these "professionals" have relinquished responsibility for their careers, too.

That profession is teaching. The group that puts such a stranglehold on where and how teachers work is the teachers' unions.

The union gets written into the contract that new teachers in the district, in the case of Lowell, cannot bring in any more than five years of experience when determining salary step. So a teacher with 15 years experience who wants to come to Lowell will only receive the same step as a teacher with only five years experience. Depending on the district, the more experienced teacher is coming from, that could be a substantial cut in pay. Thus, this contract clause prevents Lowell from being able to attract experienced teachers from other systems.

The tenure trap also prevents teachers from moving to where they feel their skills are best used or for any other reason.

Tenure protects 20-year first-grade teachers that have burned out to the point they now believe screaming at 6-year-old children is appropriate classroom management.

Tenure makes the school manager's job much tougher because he or she cannot easily remove inferior teachers and promote the best teachers. Nor can he or she reward great effort by individual teachers.

The incentive to do better is removed and in some cases puts up a barrier to those who do well.

I love teachers. My wife, sister-in-law, two nieces and my brother are teachers. It is the traps and disincentives deliberately created by teachers' unions that I abhor. Charter-school teachers are not scrambling to unionize. They do not need the union so they can be good teachers.

This one union has long since become a barrier to improving education. It has become a greedy behemoth that cares only about increasing dues collection. It is time for the teachers to throw off the shackles the union has put on them so they can do the job they love without interference from the union.



Rain Day!

We are having a rain day today. No school.

It has rained every day since last Tuesday, and it is expected to rain all this week as well. We had 14 inches of rain just over the weekend. All the rivers here are expected to flood later today and there has been a state of emergency since yesterday. The news continues to show pics of towns like Peabody, completely under water. I feel for people who have water coming in their basements. Thankfully, we are high and dry.

I love the unexpected day off to catch up on several things - but am bummed that it pushes out the last day of school to June 19. Bummer.