Sunday, April 11, 2010

I Have One More Play to Study Tonight and Then a Boat-Load of Grading That Won't All Get Done.

On my run today (2 hours and 15 minutes - the marathon is approaching!), I listened to two great episodes of This American Life, which I think is just my absolute most favorite literacy activity these days.

The first episode I heard was about Nummi, a car plant in California that was a joint venture between Toyota and GM. It opened in 1984, and it had the potential to break the GM mold and save the company. The episode explained why that didn't happen. One big reason was the bad relationship and distrust between the UAW and GM.

This made me think of my ongoing ambivalence about being a union member. On the one hand, I support my union negotiators because I cannot negotiate my own salary. On the other hand, I think the union has some major problems. This is one of the only things on which I agree with Tim Pawlenty, governor of this great state.

I haven't worked with many bad teachers, but I have definitely worked with some. I think it should be easier to fire these under-performers. I also feel that the union tenure and seniority systems make it harder for school districts to be flexible with new parents and working schedules. Further, I feel that within the current system, there is no monetary benefit for working harder, learning more, and being innovative. That's wrong, IMO.

I don't know what to do about these problems. I have one idea, which is to raise the starting pay of teachers from 30k to 50k. Then, instead of having steps (a raise each year, just for sticking around), you only get a raise when you actually do something great. Like getting a master's degree or creating a program that benefits student performance and/or school climate. I don't want it to be easy for districts to get rid of older teachers, and I think my system makes it so districts wouldn't save as much money by doing this.

Maybe the republicans can figure out how to make this plan work. But, I kind of doubt it because they always want to pin everything on test scores, which we all know is totally wrong.


kc said...

jw, this situation is terrible. I'm am so sorry about it, and I really wish you could get a librarian position.

during my time as a union-member, the union got behind a guy who was harassing me. instead of protecting me, they protected him. five years later, he finally got fired for looking at porn on his computer while seventh-graders were in the room with him. also, the school district told me i couldn't work part-time because the union seniority list made it impossible for them to honor pt contracts. also, the union threatened to block my blended course.

but, if i don't join, then i still have to pay and i don't get legal fees if i get sued.

Gina Marie said...

UGH. I don't know enough about unions, especially teacher's unions, to say anything other than that this really pisses me off. I think your idea about a 50K starting salary sounds great. I think it's embarrassing that we don't actively try to rope in our greatest minds to become teachers, and it's only going to get worse if we don't acknowledge the currently crappy pay grade.

You are obviously an extremely intelligent and passionate educator. For God's sake, you promote literacy in your off-time!

Last, the story above really freaks the hell out of me.