Skip to content

Control issues.

All together now...
All together now…

So, I wasn’t surprised this morning when I woke up to read a front-page story on the Seattle Times Internet page regarding that the teachers’ union and the school district still haven’t reached a compromise. Maybe the word “compromise” is too generous. Compromise suggests that both sides are willing to give up a little bit to gain a little bit to make everyone happy, or at least satisfied. I’m getting the sense that both sides have become entrenched and are not willing to budge. This is my impression, and I don’t know what the truth is.

The individuals in groups are usually well-intentioned, caring people. And when you get them in a large group, sometimes mob rule can get out of hand, or “group think.”  As Agent Kay said in Men In Black, “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

And having never been in the middle of this type of negotiation, many things have surprised me. I guess if I had really thought about it, I wouldn’t have been taken aback. (I’m building schema, making new inferences, drawing conclusions, and synthesizing information!)

When the union called for the strike and the majority of teachers voted for it, I knew from my gut and experience that it would take a few days for it to really “sink in” to feel the effects of this. Check that one off the list.

When we receive updates and new information, I knew from my gut and experience that the information presented would still be unsatisfying, emotional, full of rhetoric, both useful and trashy, and not very detailed. Check.

Detailed? That’s where my personal control issues come in, and why I’m a little emotional right now. The ‘nuts and bolts’ of what it means to go on strike were not presented in a very clear manner. I keep thinking I missed something, didn’t get enough information, that maybe somewhere, somehow, there is a clear list of what precisely happens when a teachers’ union strikes. The information presented from both groups is murky, riddled with inaccuracies, and covered in muck. My instincts are to dig deeper and ask more questions. For example, why are teachers required to belong to the union in the first place? Are there alternatives? Who decides when things have gone far enough, and in order to ‘save face’ what are the two sides willing to do? When does strength in unity become stubbornness?

Well, here’s what I do know: The only things I can control are what I’m doing today. I will move forward with organizing lessons. I will go ahead and write my congratulatory notes to some of my students from last year, and get them ready to mail. I will read more regarding National Boards and start to organize my thoughts on the portfolio entries. And, I will empty the dishwasher and fold some laundry. Check, check, and check!

And I will keep waiting for tomorrow, and what I’ll know.

3 Comments »

  1. I think what I’m experiencing are the five stages of grief: Denial/isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.

  2. Work actions are ROUGH, I know. At least you went all the way, and didn’t vote for a work-to-rule. That, to my mind, is even worse. The single most important question you need an answer to is this: Are you getting paid during the strike?

    Teachers are required to either belong to the union, like any closed shop, because of the power collective bargaining gives us. I haven’t quite gotten used to West Coast unions – in many ways they seem much cosier with the district administration than the fierce and proud unions I grew up with in the NE. But, as someone who started out teaching in a private school, with 5 preps for half-time pay, I appreciate the bargaining process!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: