on 8/19/02 2:00 AM, ArtsEdNet Talk digest at firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: Re: union activism
> From: Woody Duncan <email@example.com>
> Date: Sun, 18 Aug 2002 17:47:11 -0500
> X-Message-Number: 40
> On this subject I must admit that I was born into a union family.
> I have always belonged to the association and to the union when
> I had a real job. Our local NEA and the district have had very a
> good working relationship for years now. Of course right now they
> must divide the meager crumbs that the state gives us. The
> biggest shame is that only about 1/2 of the teachers in the district
> belong. It's hard to bargain with one hand behind your back.
> The first meeting I attended 26 years ago they talked about kids
> and education, I knew right then I was in the right place.
> Union forever, Woody in KC
My district went through a very difficult time last year with the settling
of our contract in the face of having a major funding referendum fail to
pass. There was a lot of frustration and feelings that alternated between
depression and anger on all sides. Despite it all, however, the leadership
that was exercised finally brought as positive a resolution to the passing
of our new contract as could be expected. Without the balance that a good
teacher's union brings to the table, teachers would continue to be awash in
a sea of whim and expediency on the part of the respective state
legislatures, the public's perception (or lack thereof), of the importance
of education, and the bottom line mentality of many districts that often
cuts away at programs such as the arts. It is also a mistake to assume that
teachers as a group think and act as a unified body (this also intimated in
Woody's remarks concerning the lack of support for the union in his
district), which certainly can contribute to the confusion of voices that
too often undermine the best of intentions no matter how ill conceived.
Again, the union as a tool for supporting teachers, helps to provide a focus
on important concerns and considerations, giving credibility to sound,
educational research and good teaching practices. Without the union to
support these things, the structure of education would be compromised time
and time again, even more so than has been the case as a result of poorly
arrived at formulas that have not provided adequate funding in many states
and local districts.