The Labor Day-school connection
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Updated: September 17, 2012 12:22PM
Both sides have valid points of contention, but no matter from which angle we look at it, students are on the no-win end of the equation. Some local districts also are in the midst of strike discussions, and it has made me think about the connection between Labor Day and school.
As we all know, Labor Day honors the significant influence, often good but occasionally not, that labor unions wielded in representation of a previously disenfranchised workforce. Many people today think labor unions have outlived their usefulness, and in some cases I’d agree.
However, one type of union that probably will survive for a continued run are the teachers unions. A bane to some and always in the forefront of discussion in these challenging economic times, teachers unions still fight for their constituency.
Even with a teacher as one of my offspring, I admit having some issues with the longstanding structure of portions of union contracts, like the priority of tenure over performance as one example. However, a recent article, discussed with Teacher/Daughter No. 1 over a glass of wine, was thought-provoking in its exploration of new challenges teachers face that many of us nonprofessionals don’t even realize.
The article actually was focused on student cheating and how easy it is to do these days, with all of the available technology and creative students who strive first for good results and worry less about the actual learning process. What I never gave thought to until after reading this report was that teachers now are called upon to go to much more extreme and time-consuming lengths to counteract all of these potential methods.
That means compiling multiple tests and formats for the same academic class, so that students in Period 1 won’t be able to use their techie talents to get Period 6 students a sneak peek. Thinking about how much extra time and work this requires, both for text construction as well as grading afterward, how could anyone argue that a teacher’s day ends earlier, at 3 or 4 p.m.? And therefore that they are overpaid and overcompensated since they work a shorter day?
If the general public could somehow shadow good teachers long enough to see all of the things they must do nowadays, a different outlook might prevail. And therein lies the key. Let the unions continue to protect good teachers, they deserve it. And let the administration move out the ineffective teachers as needed. Everybody wins.
Send email to Pat Lenhoff at email@example.com.