Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is the holding of two diametrically opposed ideas at the same time and believing both of them equally. I think of this phrase often when confronted by the demands of teachers unions. On the one hand, the unions believe that teachers are incredibly important to the development of children — that they are dedicated educators who can change the lives of any child through their efforts.* On the other, unions resist methods to judge the efficacy of educators because, they claim, factors for success in school have little to do with what goes on in the classroom and everything to do with factors out of their members’ control: poverty, parental involvement, and other factors are more important, they claim.

In other words: Pay teachers more because they’re incredibly important, but don’t hold them accountable because they’re not really that important. This is textbook cognitive dissonance.

I again thought of that phrase while reading this satirical “apology” from a teacher who received a poor evaluation. He sarcastically complains

Some people would have you believe that the achievement gap is the result of s—y parenting, poverty, and toxic neighborhoods. I am here to tell you that these people are pussies and they don’t believe in children. I have allowed them to corrupt me. The intergalactic achievement gap is my fault and mine alone.

The sarcasm, it’s worthy of The Onion! (Or not.) In another post, this anonymous teacher whines about getting a bad evaluation:

I had my first evaluations and debriefs in the last several days. The outside evaluator was quite friendly and more or less thought I was doing a pretty good job. She rated me an “effective” teacher.

The inside people, not so much. Ineffective. I am horrible.

Our evaluation system is based on a series of complex rubrics, because I don’t have enough rubrics in my life already.

Now, without knowing exactly where this anonymous teacher works it’s impossible to tell what sort of evaluations he’s being judged by. But if it’s anything like Washington, D.C. — where simple classroom checks were used to give virtually every single teacher a passing grade before the introduction of the “complex rubrics” that comprise the IMPACT system did a better job of judging teachers — the fact that he got a lower evaluation by objective measures is exactly the point. Bad teachers need to be weeded out.

Now, maybe it’s unfair to call this educator a “bad teacher.” Then again, maybe it’s not. Here he is in another post:

Being a teacher is like having retarded employees. “How the f–k would I know where your practice test is or where Devonte put your notebook? Keep track of your own s–t and stay awake. You’ll get a C minus … D–n.”

If the “complex rubrics” cost this guy his job, I wouldn’t shed a tear. Would you?

*For the record: I totally agree with this sentiment. A good teacher can work miracles.

Categories: Center for Union FactsTeachers Unions