Jose Vilson takes serious issue with the notion—expressed indelibly by a young teacher in this video clip from NBC’s Education Nation event—that union contracts prevent teachers from doing all that they can to help struggling students:
Can we just agree that teachers just do what they got to do to make things happen for their kids? When kids needed me to stay until 5-6 pm to tutor them in math, I never went to my union rep and complained. I just did it. When I wanted to work with my colleagues or call a series of parents one week, I just did it. Before school starts every year, I'm already buying materials and getting to my classroom (if my school's open) trying to get a feel for my new classroom. And in no way do I consider myself a Superman in the classroom: I take after a ton of my colleagues who'll readily do the same thing without getting on national TV and spewing another mal-informed opinion. I rarely go to my union except if it's for some bulletin board mandate or my own understanding of the contract. Little more.
Miss Eyre, while admitting that she sometimes holds her union in “apathetic disdain,” agrees that unions do more to help than hurt teachers. The alternative, she notes, “may very well be quite a bit worse.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.