The Hilliard Northwest News recently published a guest editorial by Matt Mayer of Dublin. In his article, Mr. Mayer echoes many of the points I've been making in this blog over the past couple of years.
While it is unfortunate that he got hold of some bad data (from official sources), the thrust of his piece is right on target, in my opinion. Voices like ours are cropping up in several school districts in central Ohio. Marc Share in Worthington and Jennifer Smith in Olentangy – both sitting Board members – are two. Now Mr. Mayer in Dublin. I hope he will consider running for school board, or actively support a like-minded candidate.
It could be that a network of school board members across the region could be formed in order to seek ways to counter the power of the district-level education associations (teachers' unions) as well as the OEA. The Ohio School Boards Association could be that vehicle, but I'm not really confident that they're interested in taking a position of opposition to the OEA.
Teachers – a showdown is coming if things don't change in regard to your union's negotiating positions. Those of us who have, or have had, kids in the district know and respect you on an individual basis, and are privileged to call many of you our friends.
But when it comes time to negotiate your collective bargaining agreement, the relationship changes. We start talking about money and benefits – things that you allow your union leaders to tell you that you want and deserve more of – as though you don't understand that more for you means less for the rest of us. And if you haven't noticed, right now you've got the better situation (and yes, let's assume all of us work hard in our jobs).
I urge you to think seriously about what kind of posture you want your union leaders to take when it comes time to negotiate your next contract in 2010. I hope it is one of empathy, and yes maybe a little appreciation for being in a community that has, time after time, dug deep to support our schools and the professionals like you who give it substance.
If you find that your leaders want to go in a different and more confrontative direction that you desire, it's up to you to make them comply with your wishes, and if they won't, to replace them. You simply cannot be both apathetic and a member of the union. If you think being in the union benefits you, speak up and make it be your union. If you think it doesn't, drop out and speak with your own voice.
Change is definitely on the horizon.