Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

10/5/09

Why I am not a teacher

I have taught on and off much of my life. First, as a private tutor, working with as many as a dozen students each week. Later, in a jail and as a substitute teacher, and in some adjunct classes at the elementary school level. I have been told I have the knack. I think they are right. I love kids, connect with them well, and usually have more energy. I also know what a tough time school can be. I am enthusiastic about my subject, and it shows.

Every so often, I get the question: why don't you teach? The money and hours are not bad. Coworkers would be smart. There is a chance to make a difference in a kid's life.

You betcha. All of that is true.

But I am am not a teacher. Why not?

One word: unions.

I'm no fan of unions. I decided not to become a teacher largely based on watching what unions did to my school system. I understand a basic argument for their existence, but think they are too involved in politics, personal lives, and offer a school no choice but to hire a union teacher. Freedom gets killed.

Not all schools are patsies to their union, nor is every local union politically partisan. My schools growing up seem to have been. My high school was the worst. A few places I subbed in also demonstrated they were unable to dialogue.

I am an opinionated person. I tell people what I think. At my work place, however, I do not want fights.

At one place, a peer was so anti-Obama, I felt uncomfortable, and it impacted the quality of my work. And Obama is the last guy I will vote for. This colleague was as bad as the anti-Bush people. At a place I contracted (not a school), the full-timer was intimidated by me, and stole my ideas. Unions were univolved in each work context, but the tension was more than I wanted. I did not fight. Not at work.

If a school I worked at had a union fight, I would quit. It means that either the leadership is not taking care of the teachers, or the unions were just being whiny. Who suffers? Not just the kids, but any teacher who dares disagree with the union he had no choice but to join. The leaders lose leadership. Money is blown on lawyers, so taxpayers suffer.

None for me, thanks.
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