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Monday, September 7, 2015

Labor Day 2015

Few things get folks more riled up than the subject of labor unions, and many take Labor Day as an opportunity to tout their value.  I'm not going there today.  Well maybe I am.  I have issues with labor unions, but I also recognize that sometimes they are essential.  Case in point:  Public school teachers.

There was a time when I thought that public school teachers should not be unionized.  How many other professionals (doctors and lawyers) have you known to go out on strike?  Then I had something of an epiphany:  Given how corrupt local school boards are, can you imagine just what kind of shenanigans would be happening if good teachers didn't have the protection of a labor union?

"Teacher Fran Jones fired for poor performance." 

Could very well actually mean...

"Teacher Fran Jones fired for not contributing to school board director Ty Goodwaddy's re-election campaign.".

Granted that teacher's unions are far from perfect.  For example, it's too hard to fire ineffective teachers.  In fact, given the debate centering on teacher evaluations, unions are making it difficult just to figure out who the ineffective teachers are (although if you get a good teacher aside and ask, they all can point out the rotten eggs), let alone performance manage them out of a district.  There are other issues as well (innovation, as in changing the construct of a school year, is another), but I don't want to pile on because in the arena of public education there are no clean hands.

In the end, I do think that labor, as a general concept, is under-valued in this country.  In many corners of the country working is not valued at all.  Perhaps in our desire to make the lives of our children better, we've gone too far, failing to teach the nobility that comes from working hard at any endeavor.  That needs to change.

I'll end this with a nice prayer from the Facebook page of The Episcopal Church.

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