Something I have not blogged about but I am very involved in is the fact that our charter school just voted to unionize.
I have had very mixed feeling about this, but I am someone who voted yes. It seems that at my school there are teachers who are perceived as the negative Nelly's and are only looking out for themselves. These are the teachers who organized and got this going. I am someone who didn't have an opinion at first about it. I would consider myself someone who is in the select group of "favorites" in my school, I'm not sure if that's just because there is no doubt that my goal is 100% student advancement and success or what. Even as I type this it sounds weird. I know the teachers that got this started and I know that they want our student to excel and succeed too. They also want to be treated as professionals. However, I decided to find out all the facts and not just say NO because I didn't want to be kicked out of the "in crowd."
I know that my salary is about 5,000 less than I would be making in a public school, but that is not why I teach anyway. Its not just about the money and benefits. I like the idea that I would be protected if something horrible happened. I teach middle school, I know what could happen.
After getting more information from the union, I am also excited about the benefits for our school. Its no secret that the NJEA or teachers unions in general don't really like charter schools. I think that they have finally seen that we are not going anywhere. They are now fighting against the corporate for-profit charter schools, which we are not, we are public. There is one of those opening in our town next year and our school is a little worried about losing students to it. I think having the union on our side (along with their money and resources) can only help us.
There are tons of PD we will be able to take advantage of, plus there are pride grants which will help us with our mission of community building.
One of the biggest concerns I had about this was the long drawn out contract negotiations. I've heard horror stories of teachers working without a contract for 4 or more years. That would stink especially since our admin has presented us with a new salary guide which would give me a 5-10 thousand dollar raise. But I'm thinking since we are such a small school these negotiations won't be as dramatic as those in large districts. Admin has already come up with the salaries, I think a little tweaking will make everyone happy.
Is it going to be a perfect transition? Probably not, but I am optimistic that there are going to be more pros than cons for our whole school as we take this journey.