|Do Rock Star Teachers Really Need A Union???
Posted by Peter Greene: 19 Aug 2016 07:01 AM PDT
Raymond J. Ankrum, Sr., is a teacher-blogger who put in some years in the Baltimore school system and who now is working a charter gig. And in a recent post, he asks the question that lots of union critics think, but don’t always have the nerve to articulate.
The question often comes from people not working in public education– why do you need a union or tenure or a lock-step pay grid? Isn’t all that stuff for the crappy teachers, to protect them from the consequences of their own crappiness? Wouldn’t school districts do their best to hold onto super-duper rock star teachers and pay them super well?
That kind of kibbitzing is typical in every field that draws backseat drivers with no experience or expertise (“Doctor, why don’t you just prescribe exactly the right dose of exactly the right drug the first time?”). But it’s always a little bit of a surprise to hear it coming from teachers. At the risk of sounding like the aged fart that I am, I can’t help notice that teachers who pose this rhetorical comment are most often “less seasoned” or “newly minted” or “young.” Not that all young teachers have this issue– the vast majority know better. But some still want to ask this question, so let me try to answer it.
First of all, the question presumes that the rock star teacher works for a rock star principal and a rock star superintendent. This is a large presumption. The rock star teacher may in fact be working for a complete Lawrence Welk administrator, a school leader who hasn’t got a clue.
In fact, since school administrators these days turn over at a faster rate than teachers, chances are the rock star teacher is working for someone who had no hand in hiring her. I don’t know that anyone has done the research (or could) but it would be interesting to see how many teachers are working for someone that didn’t hire them in the first place. I’m going to bet that the percentage is huge. That means that even if the teacher is a rock star and the administrator is a rock star, the teacher was hired as part of a vision of the school that is no longer in play.
Oh, but excellence is excellence and anybody with half a brain knows a rock star when they see one. Sure. That’s why all elections in this country are settled quickly and easily and everyone listens to the same music and watches the same movies and tv shows– because excellence is something that we all totally agree on.
No, sorry, young rock star, but one person’s rock star is another person’s “Oh my God how can you listen to that dreck!!” Find me any awesome rock star teacher in the country, and I guarantee you– no matter how beloved and rock starry and awesome that teacher is, we can find ten people who would say… (read more of this post at the link below)