The teachers at our schools are negotiating for a new contract. The new contract that they are proposing includes asking for a wage increase. So far the parties involved have not been able to come to a mutually acceptable agreement, and as a result there will be strike action again this week.
Let me start by saying that we do not have a child who is worried about graduation this year, and both of our kids feel relatively secure with the marks they have, so this strike action is met with a great big ‘YES!’ from both parents and the kids in our house. From the kids because they are dreaming about sleeping in followed by movies and get togethers with friends on the days when they get to miss school. From the parents because it’s spring and we know that there will be no sleeping in for them, but rather they will be building fences, moving cattle and mowing grass. Yay!! Take all the days you need teachers because we can use those kids here.
While it’s true that I feel relatively at ease with the thought of strike action by the teachers, I do of course have some opinions on strike action and unions in general…..here I go, wading in where I don’t belong….
There are teachers out there, and they are the majority, who are fantastic. These are the teachers who inspire their students to think and to learn. They instill a sense of value in these kids and they make them feel great about themselves, their accomplishments, and what they are about to achieve.
We have been fortunate to have had many great teachers involved in our kids’ lives. They are the ones who have encouraged our kids to call on them when they need help, rather than suggesting we hire a tutor at the first sign of trouble. They are the ones who have instilled a keen interest in politics in our daughter…who now thinks that being the Prime Minister would be a great job for her when she grows up. Look out Mr. Harper. They are the ones who are enthusiastic about the subjects they teach, like the science teacher who went through the middle school lockers in search of the source of a fruit fly infestation, and upon finding the mummified banana underneath the moldy sandwiches and lost papers, showed the class the different stages of fruit fly development in the banana. They are the ones who ask if our kids are happy. They are the ones who ask about their previous students who have moved on to other schools. They help their students understand that they are capable of great things. They celebrate their successes with us. They put in that bit of extra effort, and they deserve all the money we can throw at them. I would not only support raises for these teachers, but I would organize fundraisers to ensure they got all the money and extras that they could possibly want, because my kids’ future is that important. I think that most parents feel this way about these teachers, and it is my opinion that without unions, these teachers would be paid more.
But then…..there are other teachers. These are the ones who tear up a 9-year-old kid’s homework in front of his class because he did the wrong page. These are the ones who throw a kid’s shoes at him from across the full classroom because he didn’t have them on his feet. These are the teachers who encourage other members of the students’ class to kick him if his laces aren’t tied. These are the teachers who say it’s OK that a student didn’t get an answer correct because she’s blonde. These are the teachers who I can’t get a meeting with at any time because they always have appointments at 3:45. The same teacher that I still run into years later already a block south of the school at 3:32. These are the teachers who will sit in the staff room and brag about being paid to sit in there while I volunteer for a track meet on a rainy windy day….and yes, he said that to me. This is the teacher who gave a 0% for the more than required volunteer hours a student completed for phys ed class because she didn’t think that volunteering at a riding arena was sports related. Not 60%, not 40%, but 0%. These are the teachers who do not build up our childrens’ self-esteem. These are the teachers who spend more time focussing their classrooms on the negative than the positive outcomes of students. These are the teachers who are not only undeserving of a raise, but they don’t deserve the money they are currently getting, and should be fired. I think that most parents feel this way about these teachers, and it is my opinion that without unions, these teachers would be fired.
But what would happen to our overcrowded classrooms if we fire these few abhorrent teachers? It is my opinion that with the union out of the way, some teachers would be fired and others would flee like rats from a sinking ship, but these numbers would be very few. The majority of the teachers would stay and because they are doing a fabulous job, would be paid much more than they are being paid now. This increase in pay would attract more people to the teaching profession. As a result of the positive influence on their students, we would have more successful students. These now more successful students would add teaching to their future career plans because they would have had positive experiences in school, and of course, now teachers would be getting adequate pay.
Rose colored glasses? Perhaps. I know that teaching is a very difficult job. After one hour of volunteering in an elementary school, I usually have a headache and need a little nap. If you are a positive teacher who doesn’t feel support from the parents of the students in your class, just know that we aren’t objecting to your raise. We simply cannot get the image of that homework ripping teacher out of our minds. We know that they get the raise too. They will continue to leave at 3:30 every day and never be discounted for the damage that he or she hands down to the students. This is a very small percentage of teachers, but they are there and that small percentage ‘holds back the rest of the class’.
I look forward to the resolution that will come for the teachers in our schools. I will celebrate and be totally in favor of compensating the teachers for all of the positive things that they do for our kids. For the teachers whose influence on our children is negative, I look forward to the day when you become more accountable for your actions….and in the meantime, enjoy your raise.
“The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn” – John Lubbock