Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why Teachers Like Me Support Unions

Teacher Musings:
My answer to this question has definitely evolved over time - just like my teaching has. When I first became a teacher I was pro-union with some reservations. I realized that my union was what was protecting me from losing my health care (or making my health care cost-prohibitive) and was making sure I could express my thoughts and opinions in a relatively safe environment. However, I still bought into the myth that unions were the reason we had poor teachers who showed movies, had game day and generally believed that "these" (read: poor, of color, etc.) kids couldn't learn.

Then I moved into a role that put me in greater contact with some administrators. At that school we had two teachers that were quite possibly the worst teachers I had ever seen. One would sleep during class - it was really the worst of the worst we hear blown up in the media. Other than those two the school was filled with fantastic educators, but the administrators couldn't "get rid" of the bad teachers. If you ask the administrators, it was because of the "union." But I watched observation after observation get done late, paperwork not filed on time, etc. The bottom line was this - there was a union process for supporting or pushing out bad teachers - but the administrators did not seem to be following it.

Now we come to my work today and I watch my students get deluged by standardized tests. I feel responsible (and in someways am made to feel responsible by the system I work in) for these test scores where 90% of my students scoring proficient isn't good enough. And there is only one reason why I can use my voice to speak up about these immense problems I see. There is one group I see out there who is speaking out against the ludicrous idea that I should have my pay, my work and the whole of my passion for an educator based on three days of testing.

The union.

So, while I don't always agree with every stance my union takes, I do support the important work my union does to not only protect the rights of me, but to also protect the rights of my students. The unions are not perfect, but they are the ones who are able to speak for teachers like me when everyone else seems to be against us, when we are the scapegoats, when others claim that I am sitting pretty with my "exorbitant" teacher salary.

That is why teachers like me support unions. To see what others said: http://www.edusolidarity.org

Yummy Stuff:
One of my favorite foods growing up was tuna melts. Needless to say I have no desire to eat tuna again, but I do enjoy yummy salty filling for a grilled sandwich. Bring on the tempeh! This weekend I had a hankering for one of these great sandwiches, so I veganized it with some already-steamed tempeh cubes. While it certainly wouldn't fool anyone sandwich tasted great, and it certainly quelled my grilled, salty craving. A sprinkle of kelp powder in the filling would add a "fishy" taste - you know, if you go for that sort of thing.

Tempeh Melt
4 oz of tempeh, cubed and steamed
2 TB of vegan mayonnaise (Nayonaise is great!)
2 tsp of dijon mustard
1 TB of pickle relish
a bit of Earth Balance (vegan butter) for spreading
4 slices of bread
2 TB of nutritional yeast

1. Using a fork, mash up the tempeh
2. Add the mayo, mustard and relish to the tempeh and mix it thoroughly with a fork, continuing to smash the tempeh.
3. Butter a slice of bread and put it down on a warmed pan (or on a lean mean grilling machine!)
4. Spread on half of the tempeh mix and sprinkle 1 TB of nutritional yeast
5. Cover with another buttered slice of bread and grill!
6. Repeat for your second sandwich (or save the filling for another time)

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