Together we bargain, divided we beg!
Think back to your time in grade school. When I do that, I am brought back to South Glens Falls, New York. I think of many different teachers.
The teachers were filled with school pride. From Kindergarten up through Senior year, I can always remember thinking how proud I was to be a Bulldog. "We are the Bulldogs, and the Bulldogs are Great," was our rally call. School spirit was evident from the administration on down to the students and parents. I can't imagine my life without that time period. Public school shaped me into the person I am today. Public school has shaped most of America. However, public school is under attack!
Since the Trump Administration took hold in Washington, educators have been on pins and needles in anticipation of drastic changes that may come to the educational system as a response to the nomination of Betsy DeVos as the Secretary of Education. DeVos has been a long proponent of a school voucher system and the defunding of public schooling. This alone is enough to send shivers down a public educator's spine.
As the writer, I would be wrong to not expose my bias. As a public educator, this is a subject that directly affects the ability to support my family and me. A teacher does not go into teaching for the lavish pay. However, one thing that leads to continued drawing of great teachers is access to a state-sponsored pension package which makes up for a failing social security system (a subject of a future article I am sure).
As public education is defunded, the pension packages that once attracted great teachers will be gone. Instead, education will become a for-profit industry, much like that of our current prison system in America. Schools will make money based on enrollment and they will have to rely on advertising and other means much like other businesses. Schools are not businesses and therefore should not be run as businesses.
Today, I love knowing that I was a product of the South Glens Falls school system. I have pride in my alma mater. As stated, public school shaped who I am today. My teachers taught because they loved to teach. This is the same reason that I teach today. To think that one day, if public education was defunded, that my alma mater would eventually fail to exist and instead fall prey to predatory school systems such as KIPP or Uncommon Schools, businesses that have used capitalism to make schooling into a business, sickens me.
When we destroy public schools, we destroy community. For this reason, teacher unions are more important today than ever. The conservative leaders, including DeVos herself, have urged teachers to leave their teacher unions. When individuals leave unions and fail to pay their dues, the union will fail. When the union fails there is no consortium left to protect the teachers. When the teachers are unprotected, predatory capitalism takes root and downsizing occurs. As downsizing occurs, class sizes grow and public school teachers, pushed by great pressures begin to leave the field of teaching. When this exodus occurs, then charter schools say that public schooling has failed. This is the end of public education.
The unions are the glue of the public education system. Together, as a union, we bargain. Divided, as individuals, we beg. Never beg for your rights, instead stand strong in knowing and using your rights! Support unions and save education!
Don't lose your alma mater!