Image via WikipediaOh, I have a conflict this week! In special education, I've seen two levels of bad teachers. Some are just teaching impaired and can be fixed, but some are scary bad. Scary bad means they don't really change, in spite of it all. My encounter with one such teacher has taken me all the way to the administration of our school where I learned even scarier things.
Contracts are important, however one year flying by with a bad teacher could be catastrophic for my son, while only a nuisance for other people. Unions guard even the worst teachers with tenacity, I'm told. Our hands are tied, I'm told. They are waiting on Union approval to introduce training on programs like ABA and TEAACH which are industry standards. What? You ask them what they want to do at work? Did they answer 'take long naps' because I'd be tempted if given a choice what to do?
I'm being flippant, I know, but it can't be understated how this undermines the very idea of unions! Unions serve a protective function that can't be denied. They make employment fair and available to anyone. They help workers make decent wages and protect them from personal political pressure. Never in the inception of the institution was it meant to shield a worker from the consequences of a job badly done. You still have to do a good job!
Have we created a monster here? Surely, teachers shouldn't have more protections than students. My administrators know me well. I see something that isn't working and I just may take a swipe at fixing it. One of them told me with a look of concern on his face, "you have know idea how powerful the ISTA is." Part of me sat there feeling like I'd been swallowed up by On The Waterfront, an old black and white Brando film. You know, "I coulda been a contender, Charlie, instead of nuthin' which is what I am." What are they going to do? Mess with my kid's education? They're already doing that.
I started some research, and what did I find out? That the only people out there saying anything about this are union busters, who I do not intend to emulate. I found that Indiana schools are not developing teacher standards like they should be, and that our national rating for getting rid of bad teachers is very low. Where are the parents?
Are we all too blind to connect this with ISTEP failures? This is going to be the beginning of a series of posts about teacher's unions and how they affect special education. Because the bottom line is our children already have enough to slow them down, and sometimes you need to change staff. It's just a fact.