5 ways teacher unions have bargained to help their students
Teachers are used to hearing the same old song and dance: “We love you, but hate your union.” What many people fail to realize is that the unions are the teachers, and bargaining isn’t all about teacher pay and benefits, but also about helping students achieve success. Below we highlight five examples of local NEA affiliates that are using their bargaining power to affect directly the lives and educations of their students.
Broad Acres Elementary School, MD: Broad Acres Elementary school, the highest poverty school in the Montgomery County school district, where 90% of students receive free and reduced price lunch, was on the verge of being taken over by the state in 2000, before the Montgomery County Education Association and the district entered into a partnership to help improve student achievement. Teachers were asked to give the school a three-year commitment, work until at least 6 every Wednesday, and add 15 days to the school year. Sixty percent of teachers made the commitment to stay, and within three years the school had met Adequate Yearly Progress.
Shawnee State University, OH: With online or “distance” courses growing in popularity, some college faculty unions are bargaining contracts that ensure students get the same high-quality experience over the Internet that they receive in brick-and-mortar classrooms. For example, at Shawnee State University, the NEA-affiliated local union’s contract makes sure online courses don’t enroll more than 26 students unless the instructor agrees to a bigger load. That way, every student can still get the level of attention that will make them successful.
Wicomico County Schools, MD: Educators at Wicomico County Schools realized that a small mentoring program that started in 1994 with only 27 participants was paying real dividends and decided to take it to the next level. To do so, they had language added to their contract that allows educators to give up their planning time in order to serve as mentors. The little program that started off with only 27 participants now serves more than 700 students and produces impressive results. In 2010, 41% of participants improved their grades, 46% their attendance, and 27% their behavior.