Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Incidental Idiocy

In an op-ed today by Indiana State Teachers Association Thug-in-chief President Nate Schnellenberger that decries de-unionizing teachers while flogging all the traditional dead horses (those unsupportive parents, the need for smaller classes, a wider assortment of course offerings -- for students who cannot read or do math! -- and of course and forever, more money) he avers the following:

"Hoosiers believe that a living wage, access to health insurance and protection from arbitrary firings are basic rights that most employees should have."

This is, in fact, demonstrably wrong in nearly every respect, not to mention two-faced -- if something is "a basic right" why should only "most" have it?

"Access to health insurance:" No evidence that Hoosiers all -- or even in a majority -- think you ought to have health insurance automatically handed to you, either as a required consequence of being employed or by some other means.

"Protection from arbitrary firing:" No. Wrong. All salaried employment in Indiana is "at risk" unless you've got a contract that says otherwise. I haven't seen any big movement to change that, either. --Say, Nate, do teachers punch a timeclock? Things are a little diffo if you're hourly, but not so much so that you should lean any too heavily upon it.

"A living wage?" Nope. Minimum wage in Indiana follows the Fed numbers and AFAIK, there's no promise that it'll be enough to live on.

--Ol' buddy, ol' pal, minimum wage laws are what keep a lot of your students from havin' part-time jobs: a loving and benevolent government has priced them out of the market. Add in the skills your members are failing to teach them and it's a recipe for...

Why, my goodness me, it's a recipe for making ignorant and unfounded assertions. Well, at least they won't be able to express them with sufficient fluency t'get published in the paper -- but I don't think even you would be willin' to count that as a win.


Ken said...

Always cracks me up that despite throwing ever-larger piles of money at education, results keep declining, and the teacher's union claims it's all the parents'/society's/Emmanuel Goldstein's fault.

In the private sector, when you find something that costs that much and explains 0% of the variance in performance, you blow that sucker out the airlock in its underwear tout suite.

Coming soon from Central Falls, RI to a skool district near you...oy speedily in our time.

Carteach said...

I used to think roughly the same about teachers unions, till I became a teacher. I can't speak for any union but the one I am in, and I can't speak on any but a few issues even then.

From my viewpoint, the union contract allows me to teach, and does so because the administration and I have differing goals. Theirs involve money and numbers, while mine involve actually helping students learn.

"Some of your students got grades below 70% this marking period... change them to a higher grade.... what?... you want that in writing?? No way.... never mind".

Is what happens under our current contract... (btdt)

"Some of your students got grades under 70%. Change them to higher grades or you are fired, and never let this happen again".

Is what happens without a contract.

I teach in a technical school. The instructors here are experienced professionals out of industry and most can return to industry for better money any time they wish. Money is not an issue for us, nor are bennies.

Personal harassment is... and that's why we have a contract, to deal with such issues.

Anonymous said...


My guess is that MANY people are in the same boat of "do this or be fired" when "this" is something that conflicts with their professional ethics or personal desires. For example, I have quality control colleagues who tell me of "harrassment" to get them to fudge or outright falsify test results, even in very sensitive industries. Pressure to "do this or be fired" is not the special misery of teachers.

Therefore, I fail to see why teachers should enjoy the special priviledge of having a contract and why they can't cope with pressure in the same way that most other working people do: report the pressure and have it dealt with officially; accept that virtue sometimes is its own reward and refuse to knuckle under no matter what the consequence; and / or get a new job ASAP.

Please understand that I value the job many teachers do, and I think that many are not adequately compensated for the hours they put in and the stress they experience. However, making them nearly bullet-proof such that even the rotten apples can't be weeded out of the barrel is NOT the way to go.

Unknown said...

Carteach0, back before federal aid to education (a misnomer if ever there were one), there was much less of a separation between public school teachers and public school administrations.

My grandfather was national secretary for the NEA in the 1930s. I began elementary school in 1940.

It was a whole different world, back then--and it hasn't gotten better with age...

Ed Rasimus said...

I'm not a teacher (except in that academic convolution called a community college), nor have I played on on TV or slept in a Holiday Inn Express recently, but I've been married to someone who is labeled a "teacher" in the public schools--a speech pathologist/special education teacher.

In forty years in that occupation she has never been in a union. She's worked in Michigan, DODDS, Alabama, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas. No unions in any of those during her tenure.

In some places, like Colorado the union was optional and actually a bit notorious for enabling incompetent and sub-standard teachers to be essentially unremovable. (I'm definitely NOT casting any aspersions at Carteach0, please!)

There was a time in industrialization when unions protected workers from oppression, but in large measure those are long gone. Today, employers are heavily vested in effectively competing for quality workers and workers tend to benefit through profit-sharing and promotion to management when the company succeeds. Neither labor nor management are in an adversarial relationship in most industries, and few industries demonstrate that more than public education where the line between administrator and teacher is virtually non-existant.

Roberta X said...

...I don't actually have a problem with unions per se. I kinda do have a problem with unions when they exist mostly to enrich the gys that run 'em while turning a job into a sinecure for every slacker who can squeak past his or her probationary period -- and the ones that do so for teachers are sellin' out the young of the species in addition to the taxpayers.

Childless though I am, my pocket is picked to pay teachers. Most of 'em are good. Some aren't. I don't hear ol' brother Nate windin' up to kick out the bad ones.

Ken said...

I should say that I do not object to collective (voluntary, associative?) bargaining by labor per se. Capital organizes for associative action via equity markets and other means.

Seems to me that unions had/have the greatest value to workers in Taylorist arrangements where the worker cannot easily differentiate him/herself because the output is governed by the speed of the line, while things like showing up on time and sober are table stakes.

That said, I believe that the closed shop and state intervention via statute law (beyond force and fraud, which are already against the law) are morally objectionable infringements of liberty of contract...although FDA now says there ain't no such Henny Youngman.