March 22, 2011
If you’ve noticed that your blog reader filled up today with the headline “Why teachers like me support unions,” it’s no coincidence — it’s part of a national teacher-led effort to share why they joined a union and what it means for their teaching.
Teachers from around New York City — and the country — have taken up the call to blog today in support of their unions, or to spread their message through other forms of social media. Bronx Lab School teacher and GothamSchools Community section contributer Stephen Lazar is one of the organizers of the initiative, which they’ve dubbed the #EDUSolidarity project.
In his post today, Lazar explains that union protections prevent great teachers from losing their jobs for arbitrary reasons. But it’s more than that, he writes:
I need the protection of my union and my tenured due process rights to consistently improve and innovate as a teacher. I am a very good teacher right now by any measurable objective standard, including that of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards who certified me two years ago, as well as by the subjective account of anyone who has ever observed me. On my best days, I am great and every year, there are more and more of these days.
But here’s why I need tenure to get better: I need to be able to try new things to better improve my students’ learning. If I did the same thing this year that I did last year, my students’ growth would stagnate. This means taking risks.
New things do not always go well; most of the new things I try work, but some don’t. By being able to try new things, over time, I am constantly improving in my ability to serve my students, bringing me ever closer to the sustained greatness to which I aim.
If I had to worry about arbitrary dismissal as an “at-will” employee, I would not have tried many of the great things I do. I would continue doing what I have always done because it is safe.
Lazar isn’t the only city teacher speaking out today: Miss Eyre, Lynne Winderbaum, Mr. A Talk and a number of teachers at EdWize are just a few of those who’ve already posted their essays. The full list of posts from around the United States can be found here.