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Public Beginning to See Teachers and Unions Separately
posted by: Alix | August 18, 2011, 02:02 PM   

A major reason why I began working for the "professional educator association" movement was because, as a classroom teacher, I was frustrated by the fact that the public often perceives teachers as a narrow-minded group of professionals that all hold the same, union-influenced opinion when it comes to education policy. AAE knows better, and that is one reason this organization is so valuable. AAE proved that teachers are, in fact, a diverse group of professionals that have a wide variety of intelligent opinions about what the future of education should look like.

When education beat reporters want to find out "what the teachers think" about an issue, they all too frequently get a quote from a local union leader and call it a day. It is a tragedy that the public then thinks that the "opinion of the teachers" can somehow be encapsulated into the words of one person, particularly if that person hasn't even polled the people they represent. What a disservice to the nearly one million teachers that chose not to join a union in America, but also to the many union members that disagree with those policies; they just haven't been asked. Very rarely do reporters take the time to go to the actual teachers to hear all of the thoughts on an issue, and AAE is striving to change that.

Fortunately a recent survey conducted by Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup has shown that the public is catching on, and people are beginning to separate their idea of teachers from the unions. For example, 71% of those surveyed say that they have trust and confidence in America's teachers. However, when asked about the teacher unions, 47% say they believe the unions have hurt education, compared to only 26% believing the unions have helped education. It appears that the public has begun to draw a distinction between teachers, as professionals, and the unions. An article by Education Week discusses the survey further.

I am grateful that AAE is thoroughly committed to providing members with quality information and then giving them a voice. They recognize that teachers are a diverse group of professionals and are always careful to make sure members are polled before any official positions are taken as an organization. It is more of an attempt to foster an intelligent conversation about the future of education, as opposed to stifling thought or demanding uniformity amongst teachers. This is one of the many things that make this movement great.

What are your thoughts about the results of this survey?
Comment below.

Tim Farmer, a former public school teacher and Teach for America alumnus, is Membership Director for the Professional Association of Colorado Educators, an AAE chapter.

>>>Originally posted by Tim on the PACE Blog.

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