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Tom, with all due respect, you're trying to rationalize bad behavior, plain and simple. Put yourself in the shoes of a student:
"You are nervous as heck about getting into college in the first place. You are equally nervous as heck about asking a teacher...one that you trust...one that you have build a rapport with...to write you a recommendation letter for college. You finally work up the courage and ask the teacher, only to be told no."
How does this make you (again, putting yourself in the shoes of the student) feel? Words like "crushed" and "devastated" come to my mind.
Now if you detect a note of passion in my writing here, it's because my three daughters all went through this same process; fortunately for them, they had teachers at Scranton High School who were willing to take the time (as you indicated you do) to do this in support of their students. That's part of what makes teaching and teachers special: truly being there for the students when they are needed the most. Trust me, a student nervous about getting into college is about a needy as they come.
The above noted, what makes this whole mess even worse? The fact that it's all about money.
Teachers can not simultaneously claim to be "for the students" while also being "for their own economic interests" when those two concepts collide. They can't have it both ways, no more so than school district administrators can either, and I've been pretty critical of how school districts are run as well (case in point: school districts allowing sports when academics are suspended during teacher strikes).
What's left for teachers? Well pick one:
- Informational pickets
- Holding public forums
- Stop chaperoning ski club trips (and other similar types of non-academic activities)
- Binding arbitration (you know, the process by which taxpayer interest are secondary)
What shouldn't be on the list? That would be forgoing the writing of recommendation letters.
Tom, this is a shameful act on the part of Abington Heights teachers and I suspect you darn well know it. While I applaud you for standing by your union brothers and sisters, at the end of the day I can't help but think that you...yourself...would not abide by this kind of union edict if that anxious student came to you and said "Mr Borthwick, I'm really nervous about getting into college. Could you write me recommendation letter?". No, I suspect that you'd write the letter, simply because I don't think you could live with yourself otherwise.