Home > Uncategorized > I Support the Unions’ Demands for Clear Medical Guidelines… BUT… Unions Need to Smell the Coffee

I Support the Unions’ Demands for Clear Medical Guidelines… BUT… Unions Need to Smell the Coffee

July 30, 2020

Today’s NYTimes features an article by Dana Goldstein and Eliza Shapiro titled “Teachers are Wary of Returning to Class AND Online Instruction Too”. My initial reaction to this was captured in a couple of paragraphs in the middle of the article. They read:

But now, with the economy sputtering and many parents struggling to balance work and child care while overseeing remote learning, teachers who resist demands to appear over video or to work in classrooms where it is considered safe risk fraying those hard-won bonds.

Some critics see teachers’ unions as trying to have it both ways: reluctant to return to classrooms, but also resistant in some districts to providing a full day of remote school via tools like live video — the kind of interactive, online instruction that many parents say their children need after watching them flounder in the spring.

Despite working for 35 years as a public school administrator, I do not see myself as a critic of unions. I believe they serve an important role in ensuring that teachers are shielded from “small p” politics that exist on some school boards and many communities and provide decent wages and working conditions for employees who would otherwise be subjected to neither. I DO have a concern, though, that the teachers’ union leadership is missing a golden opportunity to assume some kind of co-leadership role on how best to provide instruction in this time of pandemic and an even greater opportunity to work collaboratively with parents to devise a mechanism for meeting the needs of children and parents during these trying times. At the VERY least, accomplishing a different means of providing instruction will require a different approach to teaching than the “traditional face-to-face” method OR the failed remote learning that occurred in the wake of the school closures in March.

My advice to teachers unions: wake up and smell the coffee! If YOU and the administrators do not figure out how to provide an alternative for kids, resourceful parents will do so on their own and those same parents will not be showing up at the next referendum vote or budget vote… nor will they be eager to help you secure more money for schools… for they will abandon them in their child’s time of need and will be resentful of you for trying to have it both ways.

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