Monday, September 14, 2009

Beat Them at Their Own Game

The Boston Teachers Union has been getting hammered by all the usuals, big business, the press, and politicians about the need to increase charter schools to get around union contracts. In this new breed of "reformers" the union is the number one obstacle to reform because obviously what is best is a top down administration with teachers having no power and little voice.

The Boston Teachers Union has decided to beat them at their own game by opening their own charter school, Boston Teachers Union School. The school features some changes from the standard union contract such as a school day that is 30 minutes longer and weekly two hour faculty meetings. However, the teachers are compensated for this extra time. (A novel concept, not alternative compensation, simply adequate compensation.)

The school will function without a principal as CEO, no principal as instructional leader, simply NO PRINCIPAL. Instead, there will be two lead teachers who will also teach themselves.

The charter school will be free to abstain from district programs. The teachers involved in Boston Teachers Union School believe this will allow them more time to actually teach and build real teacher student relationships. According to Richard Stutman, President of the teachers' union, "We want to bring back some of the joy of teaching."

Most likely with the return of the joy of teaching will come the return of the joy of learning for students. How many of our children today head to school with the same grim determination to make it through another day as their parents headed off to their office cubicle to make it through another day? Is this what it has come to, are we training our kids to put up with monotonous drudgery so that they will be better at monotonous drudgery as adults? Folks, that's not the fault of teachers, that's the fault of decision makers with an obsessive pursuit of accountability for a process almost impossible to quantify.

In any case, we must wish the Boston Teachers Union School a lot of luck. Certainly, there will be many others hoping they will fail and that the finger wagging can then begin. Of course if we wagged a finger at all the non-union charter failures, we would all be digitally impaired by now. Unfortunately, success or failure will continue to be judged by another standardized test of dubious merit.

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