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Patrick Groff (not verified)

Teacher unions share guilt

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Teacher unions share guilt for the fact that school districts' most productive teachers are not assigned to public schools that enroll a high percent of students from low-income families. During school board-teacher union meetings to settle the details of working conditions for teachers the two groups agree that high quality teachers' requests for transfer out of the above kind of schools must be honored. Patrick Groff Professor of Education Emeritus San Diego State University
David J. Fiore (not verified)

Mr. Leverett, I couldn't

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Mr. Leverett, I couldn't agree more with your ideas. It would seem that we in the educational community have enough enemies without taking on each other. Unfortunately, some people see collaboration or interest based problem solving as "giving in." Obviously, additional education and especially modeling of appropriate behaviors are required, which will and does take time. I am on the union side, if you will, but describe my primary job responsibilities as "teaching adults how to behave better." I am a trained mediator and beleive those skills should be encouraged and nurtured for all in the educational community to pursue as worthy of our limited time resources, and efforts. Keep up the good work.
Paul M Bowers (not verified)

Couple of comments: 1. As a

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Couple of comments: 1. As a business owner and a parent, I do not consider a cautious eye towards unions as "unenlightened"- it's just common sense. Unenlightened would be blind acceptance of either position. 2. I have seen management bend over backward in it's "unenlightened" pursuit of a mutually beneficial relationship with a union-protected substandard teacher. Despite the efforts of management, the "unenlightened" union continues to protect the teacher, not the "grass". 3. I consider my child and his classmates to be worthy of greater consideration than being considered as the "grass" over which the management and unions fight. Charming as the allegory is, I think it shows the truth many unions and administrators hold- the children are the lowest part of the equation. Please, spare us any more articles like this... p
Jean Miclette (not verified)

As interesting as this

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As interesting as this article is, what gets lost in all the comments is that administators and teacher unions should work together to ensure that people are treated fairly ,and within the bounds of a districts contract. When all parties understand the rules, it is an easy situation. I know of no union or administrator, that purposely takes the responsibility of providing children a quality education lightly. This is America folks! Teaching students that they need to stand up and be counted so that they can ensure a future for themselves, and be a citizen that is productive and informed, is where it's at. It seems that each party forgets what unions provide to workers. Substandard teachers need to be weaned out in those first few years by administators that need to do their job. Unions can stand and make sure that that worker is treated fairly. Get over it people, and kiss a teacher for helping you be a free thinker that can actually read and respond to articles such as this.
Bill Davis (not verified)

Thoughtful article and more

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Thoughtful article and more accurate than I would have expected. being one of those union leaders who has urged more interest based discussion and more cooperation, I can assure you that the children are the ones who benefit most when unions and administrators start working together towards common goals. Unfortunately, Paul Bowers is fairly typical of the kind of critics I often come up against. He doesn't like what he reads so he doesn't want to see any more of it. Come on Bowers, opening your mind is a good way to show that you actually have one.
Paul K. Betts (not verified)

On Democrats and Republicans

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On Democrats and Republicans and Education Historically, the Democratic party has been the party that supports a strong, liberal (meaning "open-minded" and "tolerant" - look it up), and free public education for all. The Republican party, especially in recent years, has been the party that supports (through various policies inherent in NCLB) the erosion of a free public education in favor of private (including parochial) education. Not that private schools are bad, but a future of Disney-like or McDonald's-like private school chains run by some sort of "efficient business model" would be disastrous to the neighborhood school concept that has been the very backbone of our free society. Think about how much local control will be allowed when Big Education takes over. THIS is the Republican plan. There's money to be made in privatizing education. Big Ed will sidle up with Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Insurance.... Jamie, please look at who is promoting vouchers and siphoning off taxpayer dollars to "faith-based initiatives." It's not teachers and not unions! It's also not Democrats.
Patrick Groff (not verified)

Larry Leverett's essay,

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Larry Leverett's essay, "Are Teacher Unions the Problem," needs a different title. It should be called, "Are School Boards and Teacher Unions Both the Problem." In this regard, I reflect on the manner in which the boards and the unions collude to make sure that students who need the services of the most productive teachers the most do not receive them. One of the longest standing, and most imperturbable agreements between these two bodies is schools that enroll students who are the most difficult to teach will be supplied with the least capable teachers. During my lengthy service as a teacher educator, I discovered that almost all teachers who were assigned to the above kind schools had posted their petitions to be transferred out of them. Teachers are assured by their unions and school boards that such requests will not be denied. Patrick Groff Professor of Education Emeritus San Diego State University
Edward Davis (not verified)

With due respect to Larry

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With due respect to Larry Leverett, teachers unions are a major obstruction to redesigning our education system. And make no mistake about it, the system is not broken, but obsolete. Teachers unions exist for only one core purpose, and that is to grow and strengthen their constituency. Any reform which challenges that core purpose is going to be opposed, whether it is good for education or not. Getting rid of tenure and paying good teachers alot more than mediocre ones are two good examples of reforms that threaten unions. Organizations that exist solely to perpetuate and grow themselves are inherently anti-progressive. In a rational 21st century design for education, unions will have to rethink their raison d'etre. At present, they help reinforce a woefully obsolete approach to public education. Edward Davis, Author of 'Lessons For Tomorow, Bringing America's Schools Back From The Brink'
Royce Ann Wiggins (not verified)

So, who is to blame for the

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So, who is to blame for the failures of the public school system? I view the blame game as unproductive and a hinderance to progress. Rather, we should be working together to achieve a common goal: high achievement for all students. When adults are fighting, the students lose the fight.
Charles Merriam (not verified)

Needless rancor is the basis

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Needless rancor is the basis of many an impasse, I agree. Of the common complaints I hear from teachers, some are against their own unions. These complaints center around inequitable protection for new teachers, inadequate pay during the first few years of a teacher's career, failing to fight for the quality certification training, and a lack of support for teacher's incidental (school supply) costs. I expect I hear the last one because our charity, TrueGift Donations, gives away free school supplies to these teachers. Still, from the outside, teacher's unions do a good job at representing entrenched teachers and poor job at representing new teachers. This is only anecdotal evidence.
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