Teacher’s unions – or associations – across the country are disrupting the education process. Last year I sat in a conference here in Colorado. During a bathroom break, there was a union bonding session in the ladies’ room where members of the Chicago Teacher’s Union, those who cost students precious instruction time while they picketed, mad plans to help Colorado unions mirror their tactics. In my own district, the local union, Thompson Education Association, is disrupting their own contract negotiations to avoid a pay for performance program. They are rallying citizens around their own propaganda and dividing our pleasant city to the detriment of our children – and our future. It’s important to ensure that the truth is heard over their noise.
First, the union would like to assure that they are known as an association, not a union. But according to Webster, The Thompson Education Association IS a union. They engage in collective bargaining, holding taxpayers hostage to the demands made of their money. They disrupt school board meetings, representatives shutting down any civilized discussion. Instances of cutting and bullying in our Loveland schools have increased exponentially as drug dogs roam the hallways – of the MIDDLE SCHOOLS. There is a culture problem in the Loveland schools and, having attended several board meetings, I have witnessed the example set by these teachers. This is shameful because I KNOW that Loveland has great teachers, but an aggressive and frightened union misrepresents them.
This same union is using students, exploiting the trust and admiration students have for their teachers, to pressure Loveland citizens to oppose a very fair, even beneficial, collective bargaining agreement. Yesterday, a civic organization on Facebook promoted a union-supported rally. When I asked what the rally was for, there was no response. The union is using affections for beloved educators to short-change students. I grew up in a mining town dominated by union activity. The town was divided and intimidation was the standard operating procedure. The TEA behaves in this way – board members must be escorted to their cars by police? This is the height of intimidation. If these teachers are actually concerned about the students, why the hostile attitude at meetings? Education should be fun. It should be rewarding. The only thing that could undermine that would be self-interest. I am sure that is why TEA opposed Prop 104 and seems to struggle with compliance.
Union members would have the public believe that pay-for-performance advocates are looking for cost savings. Teacher salaries are one area that should never be looked at to save costs. Teachers are heroic for choosing an emotionally rewarding career over one that pays well. While their pay is less than the job calls for, anyone who chooses this profession is certainly aware of the salary prior to becoming certified. Performance pay is important because good teachers are invaluable and that should be reflected in their wages so that school districts can keep them. On the other hand, disengaged or less-talented teachers can actually cause harm to a child’s future and they should be encouraged to choose a better fit where they may make a better living. In the private sector, employees appreciate the reward that comes with performance pay and the recognition of a job well done. This system inspires competition, ingenuity, and fosters high morale. I struggle to understand why teachers look at it as something punitive. In districts that implement performance pay, most teachers find that they are paid better than they had before. In fact, parents and taxpayers should be concerned when teachers en masse to fear pay for performance. They either doubt their own effectiveness, or they have been led to believe that this is not a positive. They have been manipulated.
In the end, the TEA is determining how tax dollars are spent and how children are nurtured, but they are doing so under the guidelines of their own self-interest. Their wages are low, but they are essentially in line with private-sector wages, particularly once hours and vacations are accounted for. I understand that teachers work outside the classroom, but I would say that is no different from most professions, which are usually much more limited in their paid time off.
I am a Loveland citizen but my children DO NOT attend Loveland schools. The schools are not acceptable. While house-hunting, my husband and I did not find a single school with a good rating. I do not blame the teachers for this; as I mentioned before, I blame the fact that they are misrepresented and the significant socio-economic challenges they face. However, as a citizen, I have a vested interested in improving the schools so that Loveland may attract more people, jobs, and affluence. The best way to ensure a great future for our city is to ensure a great education today. This means supporting great teachers and having the freedom to ensure they are paid well.