The Presence of Teaching Unions
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Ann McCabe's move from Massachusetts to North Carolina witnessed a shift from a strong union that bargained for their salaries to no union at all. "With the union in Somerville, I felt like my time was a lot more valuable. There's no union in [Chapel Hill,] North Carolina."
In a 2012 Fordham Institute analysis of teacher union strength across the fifty states, Louisiana ranked 42nd, Colorado 35th, and North Carolina 40th, respectively.
"We're very lucky that we have a collective bargaining agreement and we do have a union,"
National Landscape: Rhetoric, Policies, Trickle-down Effect
"If you pay teachers more, you will attract better teachers. Teachers will feel appreciated more. I'm moving to teach at a school in Mongolia. I'll be making more there than in the top district in North Carolina. Why is that?" She asked, then adding: "Part of the reason kids don't respect teachers is because society doesn't."Eliza Bryant spoke to what's at risk due to the politicization of education—particularly at the hands of those with little to no education experience.
"One of the things I do think is a problem is the constantly shifting landscape of standardized testing and telling us what to do."
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Many teachers spoke about their frustrations with standardized testing. "One of the things I do think is a problem is the constantly shifting landscape of standardized testing and telling us what to do. Leave us alone!" Billy Goodman exclaimed. "Let people teach."Goodman also voiced frustrations with state-mandated, district-implemented policies such as frequent "student growth objective tests," which teachers design (but the results thereof also impact their rating as teachers). Other teachers discussed what they viewed as excessive benchmarks and documentation.A teacher from Illinois spoke frankly: "It's so crushing to know that the public doesn't really value what you do… The fact that we have to prove we are fit for these jobs day in and day out on top of public pressures and public personas of teachers in the media, generally speaking, is that we're all lazy bums… [And] frankly, [this language comes] from people who don't have a clue what they're talking about."
Why They Teach Anyway
"I love feeling purposeful," Parker Veroff told VICE Impact. "I love having a sense of community that's authentic to where I live. Sometimes it's difficult I think to be in New York and have my friendships be with people who are largely operating on the other side of the city. The shiny side. The side that sees a lot of glitz and glam and high paced working life. And I see the other side. The immense poverty and the immense trauma and the ramifications of that directly. But it makes me love where I live even more and feel purposeful."
"It is amazing to go home at the end of the day with a feeling of being a good influence on someone's life."
For Johnson, it is enabling students to feel safe enough to express themselves. She remarked, "The thing I enjoy the most about my job—this relates to my position as an ESL teacher—I love when my students feel safe and confident enough to tell me their stories… It is very gratifying when this happens.""It is amazing to go home at the end of the day with a feeling of being a good influence on someone's life." The teacher from Nevada County, CA said."I love the intellectual environment of teaching. I love the challenge—if you are brave enough to take risks. I love that I get to read and think about history and share it with young people. I love challenging young people to confront their own assumptions, to listen to each other, to take risks themselves. I love that I get to offer a reading, an idea, an author, an historical figure, a time period, or a skill to a student that may plant a seed for future growth or change how they see the world." The teacher from Essex County, NJ expressed. "I love watching kids grow up into cool, smart people and knowing I might have contributed a little bit to their growth."Most people likely remember multiple teachers who did just that. To to make a difference in advocating for fair wages in public education, learn more about your local teachers union and their initiatives, as well as state-level legislation responsible for salary cuts and boosts.