Join Us on March 26

By Marisa Crabtree The teachers’ union as an institution is flawed, but essential to reforming and improving the school system. Trust me, I have not always been an advocate for everything our union has said the past six years. In my relatively brief teaching experience, I have often sided- if not exactly contrary- then at least on the fringe when it came to the union’s position on key political matters. Yet, I know that strong unions provide for strong educational systems bolstered by mutual respect and reward. Today, we see attacks against our union coming from many different levels. There are financial, theoretical, and practical reasons for unions not to exist. It would certainly alleviate grief for lawmakers who need to adjust budgets and expense reports. If they make it about “teacher effectiveness” rather than longevity or experience, then they can both save money and save face by claiming that the “inept” teachers were the ones who were eliminated due to relaxation of union-based restrictions. And, although it is certainly persuasive to hear politicians stake their reputations on winning the fight against “evil empire” teacher’s unions, ultimately, the union-free educational world they would like us to exist in appears not to be quite so beneficial after all. Teachers who are not members

of a union tend to make less money, not more. Job security is a crucial benefit to teachers, and when it is threatened, means less talented candidates attracted to teaching. Finally, the freedom to design, implement, and evaluate the taught curriculum is another motivational factor for teachers, which is something very few school districts would willingly offer in the present climate of drill and kill standardized testing. Thus, whenever- and whereverteachers’ unions are attacked, we need to stand in solidarity

with them. Because, although we might sigh a breath of relief over living in a state where “unions have power to protect themselves,” which, ironically, Wisconsin state workers believed until their new Republican governor decided he would rid himself of the pesky barriers to budget cuts by eliminating unionized workers’ rights, we never know when the protection that we are affordedby the union will be threatened in our own state. Let’s march in solidarity with Wisconsin unions, as well as our own, on Saturday, March 26.

LHS UTLA Newsletter March 2011
a union wait too long to react instead of anticipating what our position is and taking a stand. We only minimally stand against the tide pressing on us from an economy floundering in a banking/investment fiasco. Yet our government financially supported these financial institutions to the $1.1 trillion mark. In dollar amounts the unethical speculating spree reaches far beyond the bailout amount. Now there is an attack on unions and teachers nationally. The corporate culpability is going unrecognized; national and CA corporations as well as the wealthy are under-taxed. demonstration heard from the people of Wisconsin takes place in the form of a sit-in strike. No matter what elected officials declare, the will of the people needs to be heard. To create a law that silences the ability to bargain as an assembly of workers is to silence the challenge working people represent to corporations’ idea of necessity. Somehow it appears unconstitutional to even insinuate that people could not negotiate their collective interests at the workplace. Here too mostly unstated rules prevent us from actively declaring what it is we believe should happen at our school, the workplace. Part of this issue seems to lie with the belief that teaching is a profession, which I believe it is. When I began teaching a dear teacher-friend said we are labor. It took me a while to realize that it is not demeaning to be a laborer. The manner in which we are treated in professional development is childlike, with seldom an inkling of autonomy. As regards the RIF notices we as We in this profession are being used as scapegoats for decisions that have left state governments wanting. It is teaching and the students that are suffering as a result of poor government decision making. As educators each of us needs to make our understanding heard locally and in national policy through our votes, and demonstrations. Let’s continue the dialogue. As teachers it is your caring attitude that conveys the meaning. Drill and practice can never offer that in education.

A New Wind
By Steve Verdon Again I am at odds as to what and how to address this learned group, my colleagues. The local issue is more pressing. My initial reaction to such rhetoric as RIF, Reduction in Force, is frustration with our society, which continues to see education as merely another manufacturing establishment. You who remain dedicated to your students, those of you who stay in the classroom and teach deserve more. We as a local union should gain strength from the general trend in Wisconsin, Ohio, Tunisia, and Egypt and join in demonstrating the validity of democracy. If the people in any given jurisdiction are to have an actual determination of policy then they must be heard. In our culture it is possible to spend a lot of money on election campaigning as there is no spending limit. From the grass roots to the Supreme Court it must be realized that if money can buy elections, then this is not democracy. The cry and

10:00 am: Gather at the LA Convention Center 11:00 am: March begins 12:30 pm: Rally at Pershing Square See Buck Wong or Marisa Crabtree for details.


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