Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Teacher's Union, Doing More Harm Than Good (by anon)

The Teacher's Union right now is completely useless.  The only thing that the Union is doing is protecting the teachers who have been teaching for far too long and lost their spirit.  Teaching is a profession where passion is incredibly important.  There is nothing worse than sitting in a classroom where the teacher or professor doesn't have the passion for what they are doing anymore and are just doing it for the paycheck.  When a teacher doesn't enjoy what they are doing it shows in the way they teach.  In my opinion the best teachers have always been the one that love their subject and what they are doing.  This then get put back into the classroom and makes learning easier and more enjoyable.  It reminds me of one of my high school math teachers.  She was a teacher there when my brother and sister went to high school, even when one of my friends parents went to high school.  She was well past retirement age, not saying that that is a reason to retire, but it was clear that she couldn't connect to the students anymore.  Once you lose that, you lose the students attention and it is almost impossible to get anything out of the class.

The other problem I have is that the union is making it almost impossible for new teachers to find a job.  The Union Protects the teachers who have been at a school for a long time and does nothing for ones who have been teaching for a year or two.  I saw this first hand when my sister lost her job as a K4 teacher at a Milwaukee Public School.  The school told her she may not have a job at the start of the next year, then they change their mind.  The next year then the same thing happen, she was told she may not have a job next year.  After months go by, they tell her she has her job back in August...only problem is she already accepted another job after be concerned she may be out of a job all summer.  She talked to the union about it, which she had been paying dues to be a part of over these 2 years and they did nothing.  It is terrible how many new, passionate, teachers are out there and can't find jobs.  It is to the point where I myself am considering changing majors over this problem since I concerned I will not be able to find a job when I graduate.

Just wondering what other people think about the issue...


  1. I come from a family of teachers and know quite a lot about the teaching profession. Like most profession it has it good and bad points. I have seen the Union save teachers jobs and resolve conflict with management. Does this mean that the Union is perfect? No it does not but in my opinion teachers are much better off with the Union than without it. My advice to new teachers as well as to new professors is to never meet with management on a controversial issue without some kind of Union rep with you. One more thing, the average teacher if they remain will have at least a 30 year career. Life happens along the way, deaths in the family, illnesses, sometimes chronic, may afflict the once energetic and dynamic teacher. In short, it is very difficult, sometimes impossible, to remain on top of your game your entire career. Even the King of Pop went down hill as he aged! Most schools, even colleges, will carry a senior teacher or professor who is a but few short years away from retirement. The point is this, the teaching profession is very diverse, there are ups and downs, so by all means stay the course. While it does not pay well, it is a recession proof gig and there is intrinsic satisfaction in working with young people. They need you!

  2. I agree that unions can be good to protect teachers' salaries and benefits, especially when people like Scott Walker are in office. But unions can be bad in protecting bad teachers. For some reason, universities tend to carry bad professors for years and years after those professors have lost any semblance of good teaching. Whitewater is no exception. The tenure system here is bad enough in making it almost impossible to fire someone for doing a failing job. And then if you add in a union, it will become a Mt. Everest battle. Most chairs and administrators don't have the time or gumption to go through the red tape process of documenting, confrontation, arguing in front of boards and committees, securing the funding to keep the position, and a new job search. It is really hard work to get rid of someone here at UWW already. Add a teachers' union and...well, you get the picture.

    The slogan here at UWW should be "students' education above all else." And if that means that we have a consistently bad teacher (say over a period of two years) that hinders student education, we should have a straightforward and transparent process to can the person.

    There are differences between great teachers, good teachers, adequate teachers, and bad teachers. While teachers may be great at the start and then lose something over the years, that is no excuse for allowing bad teachers to remain. As long as they remain good or adequate (I guess), that's okay. But I know a few bad teachers here at UWW that really need to go. I'd also like to put pressure on the adequate teacher to up their games too. UWW should be a world-class teaching institution and it is not. It pisses me off.

  3. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water!

    Most people share your sentiments relative to bad teachers and profs, just fire these bastards. The tenure system and Union are bad, get rid of them. With them both eliminated, schools and universities would be much better. Students would learn more!

    But if Whitewater is so bad and filled with bad profs, why does it continue to receive outstanding recommendations from students? This is nothing but a red herring, an argument used mostly bad conservatives to discredit union and the tenure system.

    Regarding tenure decisions at Whitewater, there are only two decision makers, the department and the Chancellor. The Board rubber stamps the decision. The Chancellor is far removed from the process and relies on the decision and input from by the tenured faculty members in the department. So if a bad prof is tenured and carried, place the blame where it rightfully belongs, on the department, not the chair, dean, or the University as a whole. According to Wis Statues, the key decision makers in the tenure process are the department and chancellor, other administrators function as recommending bodies.

    So far the most part, bad profs are carried by their own colleagues in the department! The tenure vote is based on majority rule. You would be surprised to learn the extent of what departments will do to tenure someone they like or conversely to get rid of someone they do not like.

    Next, faculty members are skeptical of the true motivations of administrations especially in times of reductions so they vote against any efforts to dismantle the tenure system.

    Without tenure, faculty will be at the mercy of a critically conservative public, and a few unscrupulous administrators searching for programs to cut or reduce.

    A former administrator at Whitewater once said that he would have eliminated all small academic program in his college (philosophy, religion, foreign languages) if they did not have tenured faculty members in them.

    Of course, your idea of a two year process for getting rid of bad profs would never fly with the Faculty Senate. They would never be stupid enough to put something in place that could potentially be used against them.

  4. Anon 7:28, I am with you brother. Let get rid of the bad professors now and make whitewater the mecca of great teaching, but don't stop there, get rid of bad administrators. There are a few of these turkeys walking around campus. While we are at it lets get rid of bad academic programs, especially those dinky small programs and departments, such as German, French, Race and Ethnic Cultures, Woman's Studies, Philosophy, Religious Studies. Why should we continue to pay for programs only a hand full of students are interested in. Don't give me that crap about they develop well rounded students. The Business College rules this plantation! So, get rid of em all. While we are at it, get rid of bad students too! Clean house! Make this the mecca of great teaching! We are the experts, we know what is best for our university. I would cut the time to one semester. If you are not on the case in one semester we should whack your ass and send you packing - no exceptions.

  5. Anon 2:09, are all of your screws screwed in tight or did you pop a nut? I don't know what axes you have to grind towards whoever or whatever, but wanting to make our university better by getting rid of really bad teachers does not mean any of those other things. Why think so?

    Do you happen to be one of those bad teachers? Is that why you are so defensive?

  6. There is a strong tradition of faculty governance at Whitewater and on other UW campuses. You can talk that bullshit on this site about whacking bad profs in two years. This is just a pipe dream. By the way, faculty on UW campuses are organizing Unions. Guess you have a problem with this! My point again is there are numerous way to improve a campus, getting rid of bad profs is just one way, and may be the worse way. You don't improve the police force by just getting rid of bad cops! There is more to it! Use your head!

  7. Before I leave this issue. Let me clarify. I want everyone to be educated on the rules, for who knows one day you may have to use them.

    Chapter 36 Wis. Statue governs UW System including tenure, etc. In short, it is state law.

    According to Wis state law:

    Any person having tenure may be dismissed only for just cause and only after due notice and hearing. Any person having a probationary appointment may be dismissed prior to the end of the person’s contract term only for just cause and only after due notice and hearing. The action and decision of the board in such matters shall be final, subject to judicial review under ch. 227. The board and its several faculties shall
    develop procedures for the notice and hearing which shall be promulgated by rule under ch. 227.

    And "just cause" does not include bad teaching! Just causes include such things as felonies, etc.

    So your plan would not work even if the entire faculty including all the administrators supported you. You would have to change Wis. State Law first.