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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Doing Wrong: Abington Heights Teachers

The Scranton Times reported on Friday (03.28.2014) that high school teachers in the Abington Heights School District are refusing to write letters of recommendation for students.  The reason?  A dispute with the district over labor contract issues.

Now for those unfamiliar with what's going on, these letters are very important for high school juniors and seniors as they make college plans.  By refusing to write any recommendation letters, teachers are directly harming the students that, in theory, they supposedly care about.

I know, the above is very harsh language, but so be it:  it's one thing for a unionized teacher to go on strike and simultaneously claim to "care about the kids", for after all in Pennsylvania the law governing public schools guarantees a certain number of instructional days per school year.  The net result of a strike therefore is a lot of inconvenience, but in the end it all works out.  More or less.  The same can't be said for the refusal of teachers to write recommendation letters.

Now I had wanted to write this posting yesterday, but I smartly put it off until today, as I was far too angry to write something yesterday that would make a ton of sense.  It would have been just a written rage.  Time has helped in that regard, but I still have a few choice words for the teachers in the Abington Heights School District who are refusing to write recommendation letters:

You are shaming yourselves.

You are bringing shame to your profession.

You are harming the children you claim to care about...for money, no less.

You are proving that what your worst critics say about you is true.

You are using children as cannon balls in a war they are not a party to at a time when they need your support the most.

Stop this nonsense now.  Give up the "holding the kids hostage" approach and start writing recommendation letters again.  Prove that you are better than this blatant display of union thuggery at its worst.


Tom Borthwick said...

I'm very conflicted on this issue. I think it's important that teachers demonstrate their value during a contract dispute, and this is one way to do it. I worked without a contract for two years in the early days of my career, and it's awful. Abington is going on five years now.

What are they to do? The district has no incentive to settle. I am personally against striking. They are grasping at straws because they are desperate.

Speaking as somebody who writes recommendations (since I teach juniors and seniors), it's time-consuming and uncompensated. I don't mind, of course, but to say it's part of our job is simply untrue.

Scaling back courtesies is really all Abington has left. Teachers go above and beyond routinely, I see it so often it's hard to keep track. From their perspective, if the kids want college recs, then they deserve a fair contract.

Just playing devil's advocate. I don't think the teachers deserve this amount of vitriol. The School Board (which is refusing retroactive pay, for example) certainly deserves some.

Mike Sporer said...


I agree that a teacher's job is undervalued. This is true both locally and nationally. Teachers are the ultimate professionals and need to be paid as such.

That said, this deal doesn't reflect that professionalism. I'm with Stephen on this one.

Mike Sporer