This time, it looks like there are 2 districts striking. Pasco and my home town of Seattle.
This is a real hot button issue for me. I frequently disagree with my liberal friends and neighbors in the area. Also, I know quite a few teachers who have strong opinions on this. When you hear me vent about striking teachers, I can understand how you might think I am "anti-teacher."
But, that couldn't be further from the truth. I am VERY VERY pro teacher.
So, I felt moved to write a post to my blog because that's what I do when I have something I want to say. :-)
Here are the fundamental reasons why I oppose teacher strikes:
- Teachers are public employees.
- Teachers are salaried professionals. Why do they even have a union? They're not machinists or plumbers.
- NOBODY is hurt by teacher strikes except the parents and students. Districts are given their money from the state. Teachers will still get paid. Districts will still get paid. In the meantime, parents need to struggle to find and pay for child care and the kids get to go even longer without their education.
- On average, teachers make good money and receive good benefits for 9 months of work.
Ok...I hear people yelling at me already, particularly on the 9 months of work and the good money part. But, I want to point out that I said, "on average."
You see, here is the thing that pisses me off most.
There are some amazing teachers out there. AMAZING! These teachers are not paid enough.
There are also some crappy teachers out there. These teachers are paid too much.
How do we determine good teachers from bad teachers? I don't know because teachers don't want to be evaluated in meaningful ways.
See...my problem ultimately comes down to the union, not the teachers. Because of the union, no meaningful criteria can be used to evaluate a teacher. Therefore, there is no real way to determine who is an excellent teacher and who sucks. Also, because of the union, so much focus is put on seniority over talent. I don't care if a teacher has been teaching for 30 years. If that teacher is not as good as this younger teacher who has only been teacher for 5 or 10, they should not be making as much money.
Why can't we run education more like a business? If there is a teacher in Minnesota who has received multiple awards and has lead 100% of their students to passing grades and is largely seen to be amazing, why can't we offer this person $100k/year?
On the flip side, why can't we fire the English teacher who plays movies in class every day?
We have failed our teachers. Our good teachers. We have failed them because we let the system get to this point. I know it's not PC to say, but when you have a job that pays you $60k a year, gives you 3 months off in the summer, 2 weeks for Christmas, 1 week for min-winter break and another for Spring break while offering you incredible job security, it's really not that hard to attract people.
"But, teachers teach because they have been called to!" Yes...some of them have. But, many of them haven't. Many of them like the easy paycheck and 3 months plus of vacation time. And frankly...many of them weren't smart enough to be engineers. This was my problem when I was studying to be a teacher. We have lowered our standards for teachers and because of this, talent is going down.
The teachers at Desmond's school have been called to teach! They teach in a small private school where I am willing to bet they make less than a public school teacher. They seem happy to be there every single day. They are not striking today. They are in class teaching.
Seattle teachers are on strike. Skipping out on their responsibilities to their students. Already talking about how they don't earn a "living wage" and how they will likely ignore the courts if they are ordered back to work, trying to lump it under civil disobedience. You know, like the civil rights and anti-war movements.
I fully support the raise that the Seattle teachers are looking for. But, only for those that deserve it. Show us who those are and I will gripe less. Find other ways to get your point across besides these illegal and annoying strikes and I will be first in line to support you. In the meantime, I will complain like I do every single year.
Bottom line from me: Great teachers deserve great salaries. Bad teachers deserve to be fired.