Search The Tattler

Monday, April 2, 2012

Teachers Union "Bumping Rights" Challenged

The Teachers Union Should Be Supported

Opinion/ News Analysis
Living as we do, in an America carefully crafted over 35 years by right wing think tanks, sometimes the pervasive propaganda seems as if it were some collective a priori knowledge, even perhaps simply our own common sense.  The 'frame' of the public policy debate has been seized long ago by these right wing interest groups to such an extent that it now seems perfectly reasonable to large numbers of non-wealthy people that labor unions work against the common good, that they are greedy and controlled by "bosses".  The Teachers Union has been especially vilified by anti-public education interests, pilloried in the public square for their "greed" and their "standing in the way of children's education".
As our own School Board votes to cut the budget and lay off teachers, right wing derived memes are rising up in the public debate even here in Emeryville.  Some parents are using the budget crisis to assail the Teachers Union for the use of "bumping rights", the union's policy of protecting their senior members as they're hit with lay-offs.
These parents say that teachers should not behave in a protectionist manner and instead simply concern themselves with educating the children.  The "bad" teachers should be layed off, not the least senior they say.  It's only common sense after all.  They're only interested in the welfare of the children, these parents sanctimoniously state.
This kind of talk enables the anti-public education meme and pushes down reasoned education policy debate.

In fact real common sense tells us that teachers do care about educating children. They're the ones in the educational trenches as it were.  Teachers should be deferred to.  They have the ability and the motive through the Union to rid their ranks of any "bad" ones among them, all the hyperbolic right wing claims to the contrary.

"Bumping should be seen as 
necessary thing to 
protect the profession 
for professional teachers"

The anti-bumping crowd gets it all wrong.  The teaching profession needs to be valued.  Teachers need to be better paid with better job security to attract the best and the brightest to the profession.  It's not rational to continue relying on "do gooders" to fill out the ranks of teachers, as is often the case, if we really want to provide our children with the best educational prospects.  Teaching is a profession and should be treated as such with at least as much deference as management administrators receive.
A would be great teacher is less likely to enter a field where there's low pay and low job security.  The Teachers Union should be supported by parents as allies in the work to educate their children.

Emeryville parents should not take the right wing bait.  They should see bumping as a necessary thing to protect the profession for professional teachers, to snatch them away from other higher paid careers.  Teachers shouldn't have to go through what our society puts them through to assuage their desires to teach children.  They should be afforded at least a modicum of job security.
As the Emery School Board goes on its budget cutting spree, we need to realize the Union is critical to providing what it takes for education to happen here.  Instead of turning on the Teachers Union, we should fight the lay-offs.  We should fully support the teachers.


  1. Teachers have never had much of an image in our country, being seen as nerds and dweebs in a society that values aggressive action over matters of the mind; hence the resounding shibboleth of "bad teachers" echoes throughout the land. In every occupation there are "bad" somebodies, but the concept of "bad teachers" has escalated deliriously into a campaign of astonishing moral umbrage. "Get rid of the bad teachers," they say. "Get rid of the unions that protect them." These hollow catchphrases have spawned a kind of scapegoating that lacks all awareness of what actually goes on in the classrooms of American cities. I've worked as a substitute teacher in Oakland Schools for many years, and I've seen first-hand that the vast majority of classroom teachers are competent, dedicated, and care about their students. They're on the front lines fighting a tough battle every day. Whatever wages their unions have managed to gain for them are far below what they deserve. If we really want to weed out the "bad" from society, how about getting rid of the self-serving politicians who toady to the powerful corporations that own them. True, they're not as vulnerable as school teachers, but neither are they as useful.

  2. "They have the ability and the motive through the Union to rid their ranks of any "bad" ones among them..." Really? If there is an example of the teacher's union removing a member for incompetence I would like to hear about it. Is there even a mechanism for the union to monitor or evaluate their members?

    1. Teachers removed from the union for incompetence are too numerous to mention. This meme of your is a right wing canard meant to draw away public support from the union. It's not hard to investigate this for yourself. You can actually do it or you can continue forwarding this disingenuous Republican line.

    2. You would do your readers a great service if you were able to document the union actually removing members for inadequate performance. Brian, I value the service you provide to the city. You often publicize facts and useful information. But your tendency to label and attack people as "right wing" or "Republican" adds heat not light. I find there is a strong tendency of politicians of any party to act badly when not exposed to the cleansing sunlight of public scrutiny. Unions too. Corporations also. And although I have been a registered Democrat my entire life, I don't think the right has a monopoly on stupidity. I want effective efficient government services. The Democrats seem to give away the store and get little improvement in quality. The Republicans say they want to cut the cost of government until they are in power, whereupon they just give away the store to different constituents.

    3. You can check the charter of any union to see how members are removed for incompetence. Every union has a charter and every one has provisions to remove members.

      "Labeling" people and things is part of communication. It's how people speak. Everyone intuitively knows every "label" is a sign symbol to represent a connection with other things in the identified group and as such is an abstraction but a necessary one to communicate.
      In its most elemental form, calling a tree a tree is inaccurate. Every "tree" is actually a specific thing...a unique individual. To call it a tree is to deny its actual reality. A tree is an object with tree-like characteristics that language crudely and indiscriminately groups together with all the other tree-like things in the world. However, we wouldn't do very well as a species though if we didn't engage in's an essential part of communication, flawed though it is.
      I use the word right-wing to describe people/policies that share characteristics with the policies of the entire right-wing cannon. Since its not (necessarily) a pejorative term, presumably, a person so labeled will find it neutral or even complimentary.