Are unions still beneficial for teachers

Juan Casas, Courier Staff

Unions have helped improve worker conditions and wages for over a century, yet there is growing concern over the continuing need of this bureaucracy. For example, the teacher’s union in Chicago has, for some decades now, seen little to no improvement in teachers wages and or improvement of the student’s overall performance, hence giving rise to the question of why they are still in use and why they have not benefited their members like other unions have in their respected fields. Many proponents of the Chicago teacher’s union blame city and state government officials for the failing districts woes. Opponents of the teacher’s unions blame the bureaucracy itself for its woes, citing the tenure policy that shields many teachers (in many cases bad teachers) from discipline and ultimate termination, while simultaneously hindering awarding good teachers for their excellent work that they do. Overall, it is a debate on whether the Chicago teacher’s union has over-lived its usefulness.

The Chicago teacher’s union is currently involved in a political war with city and state government officials, they fight for higher teachers wages and in protection of the highly controversial tenure system while the government fights for accountability and the overall improvement of student’s education while maintaining affordability. At the end of the day, both the union and city officials want the same thing, teachers who are well-paid, and respected while also ensuring that children are receiving a quality education. The problem is that the city doesn’t want to continue paying the union’s bloated budget and the union doesn’t want to compromise.

This is what the fighting is all about, a cities eagerness to award good performing school districts and teachers and punish bad performing ones, while the union wants to have the power to govern its own members as they see fit, indeed it is at an impasse.

When I think of the teachers union I think of the hard working men and women who have dedicated their lives to teaching others, yet I must admit that if I had to choose between teachers rights, teachers’ pay and teachers tenure over children’s rights, children’s education and children’s future, I do not believe I would be able to. In other words, I believe the students come first, teachers can always find another job or retire but children’s future depends directly on whether a teacher can motivate them and convince them of their worth and intelligence and so I must declare that in this instance, labor is not as important as the future of the student. Overall, if I had the power, I would reform the union’s bylaws to allow a more feasible system that discourages and disciplines bad teachers while promoting and rewarding good teachers. For example, I would start by eliminating raises based on seniority and have it based on an evaluation system that takes into consideration creativity, motivation, patience, and whether that specific instructor has had complaints filed against them in the past. Overall, the purpose would be to better the education of the student.