Letters to the Editor

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STRIKE: Why Tacoma teachers are on strike

Letter by Andrew J. Borgstadt, Tacoma on Sep. 14, 2011 at 9:13 am with 3 Comments »
September 14, 2011 10:16 am

Why are teachers striking? It’s not the money. Despite being a legitimate concern that indirectly affects most everyone, it’s not the class size. It’s administrative power.

The district seeks carte blanche authority, meaning it could move, remove, transfer or suspend any teacher, at any school, for any reason. The district has used the legislative mandate of a 1.9 percent teacher pay cut as an opportunity to push its own agenda.

Teachers agree the system needs to be fixed. The difference however is in the belief that giving administration unchallenged autonomy, or uprooting teachers with a plug and play strategy, is not only unfair but it fails to address the problem at hand – education.

Principals do have authority in their schools. These existing processes need to be utilized and pursued vigorously by administration when a case warrants such.

Despite there being a myriad of problems facing education, not the least of which is funding, freedom to move teachers without reprieve is not a solution. The strike issue isn’t about money. It’s not about classroom size. It’s about fair assessment of one of the most difficult and demanding jobs in existence.

Teachers are dedicated to students. It’s understood that there must be sacrifice amidst economic shortfalls. Relinquishing the right to defend oneself and stay committed to a school is not a sacrifice teachers should be forced to make because times are tough.

Leave a comment Comments → 3
  1. olympicmtn says:

    Andrew some reality for you and your union professionals.
    1) your an exempt employee
    2) you are a professional
    3) exempt professionals in the corporate world work at various sites continuously to sell a product and keep their exports afloat.

    Do you really thing a professional exempt employee in the Seattle area working at major corporations can tell their manager that hey I don’t want to work at the other site even though I am employed for your company in the Puget Sound area?

    You are a Tacoma School Employee. The DISTRICT HAS A RIGHT to move you to another Tacoma School in THEIR DISTRICT.

    What is so hard to comprehend about this fact?

    Ask anyone at any Puget Sound corporation whether they can tell their manager that they do not want to move 15 miles for the same job.

    Your are in never never land in the professional world.

  2. Many teachers are dedicated to their students and to achieving academic growth, but not ALL teachers are as dedicated or effective. Every school has the deadbeat teachers who punch a clock as if they worked in a factory, use every excuse to make sure resonsibility for achievement is not their concern, come unprepared for class, deliver poor lessons, are unable to manage their classrooms, refuse to change when given solid research to do so , or do little to improve their instruction when given ample professional development and/or mentoring. Tons of money has been wasted on these same teachers trying to bring them up to par with the effective teachers in the district. The students assigned to these teachers are at a huge disadvantage and suffer because the current system protects the teacher; not the student. Some of these ineffective teachers have senority so they COUNT ON BEING PROTECTED by their union…AND IT WORKS! To get rid of them is called the “Dance of the Lemons.” Adminisrators must try to trade them off to another school …what goes around, comes around. How can schools undergo true reform and improvement when these ineffective teachers slow the progress of all? I believe this is why the Tacoma administration is finally making a stand to have greater authority in ridding the schools of these teachers. It seems harsh because noone has dared to really address how large a problem this has become to school reform. The union is scaring all of the membership when it should be working with the district to find more effective and timely ways to get the bad teachers out. Any teacher, administrator or parent who denies that these teachers exist is either dishonest or clueless…shame on you.

    Now, having said this about teachers; not all administrators pass the quality sniff test…yes, there are some real stinkers. Becoming an administrator doesn’t give you a free pass to claim you’re a great educator or an effective manager. The difference is that administrators do not have the security that teachers have. They can be terminated much easier, but the “Dance of the Lemons” for administrators is alive and well…don’t kid yourself. And, they also seem to become members of “the club” where passing the buck is the norm. When the buck is passed to the teachers in the trenches, there is a huge problem!
    Bottom line: There needs to be a way to get rid of ineffective/bad educators quickly no matter what position they hold or how long they have been employed because THE STUDENTS SUFFER and the taxpayers are being duped.
    I’ve seen it all from the inside….it’s time everyone rolled up their sleeves and addressed the issue. Tacoma teachers, agree to contract language that helps rid the schools of the “lemon” teachers so the rest of you and the students can have a greater chance to achieve; to become the best! Tacoma administrators and school board, you had better find a way to address the “lemons” in your own ranks before expecting the teachers to trust you. If you are great leaders; then lead by example!

  3. SmartStudent says:

    honestly, i see where he is coming from.. i know this is a late reply but i stumbled upon this… i believe that he is correct. as a student I have been informed about the strike. the teachers were obviously being treated unfairly and they did step up about it.. Teachers are helping our generation to succeed, why should they be treated like they are at the bottom, when we should be looking up to teachers!

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