Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Administators and unions; some musings

As I've mentioned in this space previously, I'm currently enrolled in an admininstrative credential and master's program. This is my 9th year in the classroom, and, while I'm not really ready to leave teaching, I'm looking to open doors for the future.
Unfortunately, I'm kind of conflicted. I hear, and read here in the Blogosphere, a lot of venom directed at administrators at the school, district, and county level. Much of this I can identify with; there are many in the admin ranks who would identify with several of the points I made in my last post. But I don't think that this is necessairly an occupational hazard. I believe it's possible to be an administrator who is looking out for kids and for teachers. Adminstrators can be responsive to the needs of their school community and the demands of the county, state, and federal education agencies.
Why, then, are so many apparently not?

On a somewhat related issue: Last year, our district was embroiled in a labor dispute: we wanted more money, the district said there wasn't any. Both sides dug in. We "worked to contract." We quit doing afterschool interventions. There were "crisis" meetings. Teachers pressured, and I mean really pressured, colleagues to leave campus exactly at the contracted time. Teachers would wait in their cars in the parking lots until the contracted start time, then march through the office in unison, "United and Informed," wearing red t-shirts on Wednesdays. Teachers stood outside the campuses, and sometimes on campus, on Open House night and passed out flyers to parents. There was even a letter, formatted as a certificate of appreciation, handed out on Day of the Teacher, that was one of the most childish things I'd ever read.
You can probably tell my own position on the issue, and it leads to some of the conflict I mentioned above. I support our union. I pay my dues, I was the sole site rep on our campus for 2 years, and I honestly appreciate the efforts the union takes to improve my salary, benefits, and working conditions.
But,come on.
We want to be treated like professionals, yet when we don't get our way, we sulk like babies, throw tantrums, and act in ways we would never accept in our classrooms. How is it acceptable from us, then? Relationships with the administration of the school sites were damaged, and they had no control over anything we were upset about.
In the end, we got more-or-less what we wanted. I appreciate that. I don't think, though, the methods used were justified, or even really what led to the resolution. I dread our next round of negotiations.


graycie said...

I've worked with some excellent administrators -- currently my hall principal is the best I've ever worked with. He is great with the kids -- he backs up the teachers, disciplines the kids and everybody loves him -- kids as well as teachers. And he's not even 40 years old yet (I could be his mother -- easy).

This year we have had piles of horrid new policies and requirements and other detrimental foolishness from the campus-level admin as well as downtown. My guy has fought for us against foolish time-wasting paperwork and overcrowded classes and the loss of teams for the freshmen and . . .and . . .

He's getting worn down. We can see it this year -- I'm afraid we're going to lose him, but no one could blame him if he left education.

Polski3 said...

CTA seems to be in the dark ages when it comes to dealing with negotiations and being a democratic organization.

As for becoming an administrator....keep in mind, the best interest of "your" teachers and students are not necessarily your primary interest; it is keeping your superiors (superintendents) happy. You become one of 'their' creatures and your job depends on upholding THEIR beliefs and philosophies, which may NOT be in the best interest of 'your' teachers and students. Think of them as the "Sith" and as being the Lords of the Darkside.....They have their own agenda. Your job is to support their agenda and make them and their agenda look good. IF you don't, you're history.

This may sound cynical, but I have been teaching long enough to have been through a number of superintendents and principals and watched what happens. But, there are some good ones out there. Where, exactly, I don't know. It sure ain't around where I live.

But, if you do earn your masters, which you will, that is probably more money on the salary schedule, so you come out ahead and may have another option for the future.