Reader Letters | Mar. 31, 2011
WHAT DO UNIONS DO FOR TEACHERS?
I didn’t want to comment on Ken [Szymanski’s] article online because it seemed like a much needed attaboy to many hard-working, under-compensated teachers.
And there ARE a whole slew of hard-working, under-compensated, downright awe-inspiring teachers. One of my daughters was lucky enough to have Ken to challenge and encourage her. My other daughter was blessed to have Eric Rasmussen for two years at Memorial. I don’t have to check any of the online databases to confirm that they are tragically underpaid. It’s very easy to talk about great teachers and all that they’ve meant to us and changed our lives.
But the elephant in the room is all the crappy teachers and how they’ve hurt us and changed our lives. There are the ones that can’t write a note home without a grammatical error. There are the ones that are recycling lesson plans and class handouts from 25 years ago, which may be suitable if you’re teaching 18th Century Lit., but not so impressive for Criminal Justice. There are the ones that mock the handicapped and belittle the lower end of the bell curve. I don’t have to check any online databases to confirm they’re grossly overpaid.
Unfortunately, the Teachers’ Union forces us to treat all of these educators the same. The cream of the crop gets treated the same as the bottom of the barrel. When I hear teachers from the first category complaining about being stripped of collective bargaining rights, I’m baffled. I don’t understand why they are so adamant that they be treated exactly like the deadbeats. I don’t understand why they want to pay dues to belong to a club that just negotiated away benefits and pay raises for apparently the “privilege” of continuing to pay dues. I understand what collective bargaining does for bad teachers – I don’t understand the benefit for the amazing ones.
I recently watched Waiting for Superman and I would *love* for someone to explain to me where it goes wrong. It must be wrong, because it seems the teachers’ vote was unanimous to accept the city’s crappy compensation package in lieu of surrendering collective bargaining rights. I don’t understand the benefit for superstars like Ken and Eric.
– Celinda Kitchens, Eau Claire
Editor’s Note: The article mentioned above was published in the March 3 issue of Volume One and was written by Ken Szymanski, a local teacher and union member. It offers shout-outs to the author’s favorite local teachers. Both Szymanski and Eric Rasmussen (also mentioned) are long time contributors to Volume One.