Big Change in Michigan Union Laws and Teacher Unions
Early in my teaching career, I was a dues paying, active union member. When the union changed its positions in ways I thought detrimental to children and the teaching profession, I was able to drop my membership and dues deductions from my paycheck. Until now, I would not have been able to do that in Michigan, where the law has shifted from closed-shop, where dues were required of all members of the employee unit, to a right-to-work state, where dues paying is now an employee’s choice.
Certainly, this news from Michigan caused me to think a lot about our Nation’s teacher unions. Until they reform their visions and missions and core values they will remain in opposite to what is best for school children, especially underperforming, poor, and immigrant children.
To get back to doing good work, teacher union leaders need to change with the times, otherwise they will become extinct. Here are some ideas for Weingarten and the rest of them:
1. Embrace use of student performance growth data as part of teacher evaluation.
2. Embrace longer school days and longer school years.
3. Embrace expedited removal of poor-performing teachers.
4. Help, don’t hinder the work of retooling teacher evaluation systems to help leaders better help teachers who need help.
5. Embrace wider and more meaningful school choice for families.
We are making these critical changes in our Nation’s schools with, or without union leaders.
Someone told me that a famous teacher labor leader once said that he would start advocating for school children’s interests when children started paying dues. Really? If true, it was truly pathetic and that mentality is even more pathetic now. We can do better than this, and we must.