Thursday, March 29, 2012

Why Union?

Arrived home from school yesterday and like many days, it was later than I had planned or hoped.  A pile of laundry awaited, as did fixing supper.  Besides hoping to get in some quality time with family, I wondered if I'd have the energy late that night to dive into the large stack of neglected papers needing graded.

No wonder when I grabbed the mail I sorted out the essential and threw a credit card offer and this flyer right in the trash.

But lately I have made the choice to actively stand for education. I dug this flyer back out.  After I read it, I wrote Mr. Leonard something to this effect:

Dear Mr. Leonard, 
I received your flyer in the mail today. Your flyer said you are... 
WORKING FOR TAXPAYERS...I'm projected to get a $50 refund next year.  Great.  If your projection holds true, it will help compensate for disallowing me my tax credit for classroom expenses you took away in 2011.   
WORKING FOR STUDENTS...  Hardly. Over the last four years, Governor Daniels, Tony Bennett, and you have dismantled public education and waged war on students' progress through harmful standardized testing and accountability practices for students.  Have you read any research about this? I implore you to do so. would be a good place to begin. 
(For those of you reading this thinking education was failing and we needed politicians to step in, that is just another lie these politicians are selling you.  On those so-called world tests, U.S. students living in middle income stable homes score at the top of the list. Our overall scores are low because the United States has the highest ratio of children living in poverty of any industrialized nation. Our government is failing children, not public schools.) 
WORKING FOR TEACHERS...  As a teacher, I am absolutely offended by the brashness of this statement.   Suffice it to say, Governor Daniels, Tony Bennett, and you have pushed education 180 degrees in the wrong direction. Teaching students how to think and essential skills is much harder and less rewarding due to your mandates.  I won't even get in to Right to Work legislation or the fact I have lost about 20% of my wages recently. 
WORKING FOR VICTIMS...  The stage collapse was a tragedy. How were you negligible for this?  Doesn't matter.  It makes a nice headline for your flyer. 
Mr. Leonard, instead of posting half truths and deceitful statements on this flyer (Does my tax dollars pay for this?) the least you could do is post the ONE real truth: 


Flyers like the one above are why unions are needed again as much now as they were when they first became active. With the weak-minded, the gullible, and the ignorant so easily persuaded by the misrepresentations of the assumed authority, it will take the collective, reasoned voice of a large group to make positive change.

While we teachers fight the battle of public education in the classroom, we need the union representatives monitoring Mr. Leonard's Indiana Legislature and fighting for us.

Finally, while union reps fight for us at the state level, the union can truly only be as effective as the activeness of the union members themselves. I used to ask myself, "What has the union done for me?"  The new question I ask myself is, "What am I doing to help the union?"  When I ask that question, "union" means my fellow workers.   I hope you will join us by being active.  Click on the flyer above.  Copy down the email address, and let Mr. Leonard know if he's working for you.


  1. So well written. So sad that you had to write it. Teachers are amazing people.

  2. Thank you, Guerita (love that name!).

    How many of those flyers have I thrown away in the past? Picking it back up was such a small thing to do. If we all start doing a few small things, what a difference we will make.

  3. Enjoyed your points and your tone.

  4. I want to thank all those who emailed me about this article. The most prominent comment shared: "I hate hearing, 'What has the Union done for me?'!!"

    Somewhere along the continuum of time, apathy has prevailed and led to the misconception that the Union is this entity looming above us. When did lose such autonomy that we feel we are subordinates to the state, the corporation, even the Union. We aren't subordinates to these entities, we ARE the entities. It's time to take them back. We do this through activism.

    Ever get frustrated at the kid in your class who doesn't do a thing then tells you he is bored?

    We wouldn't get married (a union) and then tell our spouses, "What are you doing for me?" while we did nothing for ourselves. At least I hope we wouldn't do this!

    Understandably and unfortunately, the grind current state mandates have put on teachers makes them see the union as one more meeting, one more thing to do. If we just took a little time to help ourselves, we could make a lot of that "grind" go away. Then we could really start to help everyone in the education process.

  5. Interesting response to the flyer -- an activity I have done mentally a number of times, but your written expression gets to the point much better than I ever have in my mind. As a graduate of Huntington North, and a member of my local teacher's association, it's good to know the folks back home are on top of things.

  6. Something to seriously consider as another reason to support unions:

    Ed reformers spend at least a half-billion dollars a year in private money, whereas government expenditures on K-12 schooling are about $525 billion a year.

    In order to "reform" public education, which is largely under state and local jurisdiction, corporations must get state and local governments to adopt their agenda as basic policy (thus all the changes in the IDOE by political puppet, Tony Bennett); they must counter the teachers’ unions’ political clout.

    To this end, ed reformers are shifting major resources—staff and money—into state and local campaigns for candidates and legislation. Big business is now saying, "if we want to have the clout needed to change policies for kids, we have to help get the right politicians. (Just look where Tony Bennett's money for his reelection campaign is coming.)

    This is not the time to drop the union. It is the time to join the union.