No Teacher Unions- Does that complicate things?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by SF_Giants66, May 31, 2013.

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  1. SF_Giants66

    SF_Giants66 Cohort

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    I am only teaching here for a couple years to satisfy loan requirements to get some of them forgiven, but a problem is we have no teacher unions as this is a right to work state and employers don't have to give a reason for firing anyone.

    The problem is I am in a conservative area but I am openly involved in liberal political events and speak at some so would have no union for protection. Do most administrators take advantage of teachers who don't belong to a union of they can get away with it? I don't do anything illegal or violent but do a lot of left wing campaigning especially on bumper stickers on my car and am involved in a very atheistic group known in this area as well.

    I'm not the type who is gonna preach my beliefs in a classroom that don't involve the curriculum but wouldn't deny them either. I'm also not really the type who is willing to keep quiet about much.

    For those who have seen some of my posts here, I generally am more polite in public about my views than I am on the internet, so it is usually only the fundamentalist religious people that have a real problem with me.

    Part of how I already came up with a plan to deal with this is to disclose my volunteer services with secular youth groups and summer camps on my resume as it is relative involving experience working with children so that it limits the chance of being hired in a school likely to retaliate, but I'm also not the type who would see another teacher teaching religion or putting up a cross or some symbol like that in their classroom and not step in and say something about it. So I guess the real question is does retaliation and discrimination happen a lot in non-union areas or is this kind of thing far and few between?
     
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  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    As long as you don't carry your personal thoughts into the classroom or the faculty room, you should be fine. I play my cards so close to the chest, most of my co-workers have no idea what my personal opinion is on most matters. Heck, nobody even knew my religion until I asked for a personal day on Yom Kippur.
     
  4. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    What do your bumper stickers say?
     
  5. SF_Giants66

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    I have a license plate that says, "In Reason We Trust" a gay pride flag and one that says, "Freethinker: Guided by Logic and Reason." I have a Darwin fish on the window too.

    Nothing crazy or insulting.
     
  6. SF_Giants66

    SF_Giants66 Cohort

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    I actually volunteered at a middle school for about a year and my religious beliefs never really came up. Only once when my 6th grade boys I mentored asked me if I believed in god and I said no.
     
  7. ATwainedTeacher

    ATwainedTeacher Rookie

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    I teach in Appalachia, and I am an atheist. My state is also a right to work state, so while we have no "unions" per say, we do have a county "association" related to the NEA. I don't talk about my religion (or lack therof) in class. I do talk about religion as it is culturally tied to literature. When students have asked me about my own religion, I have simply stated that such a question is very personal. Most students got the hint that I probably wasn't Christian, but I just don't see how my students knowing whether I am religious or not relates to what I am trying to accomplish in the classroom.

    I also am a liberal, and I have political bumper stickers on my car. They were in support of specific candidates. I blatantly refuse to talk about politics with students, except very generally. I did have an issue with one class of my students at the beginning of the year. After telling them that, for extra credit, they could bring in summaries of the presidential debates, one student described Obama as a monkey. Several racial slurs from other students followed. I tried to keep my cool and use it as a teachable moment, and discipline was given in accordance with the school conduct code. After that, we reviewed specifically the story of Emmett Till and the general life and dehumanization of African Americans in America after reconstruction. After that, we read Flannery O'Connor's "Revelation". Of course, this has more to do with racism than politics, but racism is a daily battle at my school.

    Anyway, I have had no trouble with retaliation or discrimination, but in a professional environment, I just don't think it is appropriate to talk about my faith or politics anyway. Despite my school being in a very religious or conservative area, there is a fairly distinct separation of church and state, except for the Christmas choir concert. We have student led prayer in the morning before school, but it is student led. My one-act play students prayed before every performance, but that was their choice. I feel like I could run into problems when selecting literature, of course. I am transferring to an even more religious area in my county next year, and I have a feeling that reading "Catcher in the Rye" at my new school would not fly.

    ETA: My mother teaches English in the same county as well, and she has run into some trouble. She is religious, but she had students read "Of Mice and Men" in her class two years ago. It was on the syllabus, and students were supposed to bring a letter home to parents stating that, if their parents wished, their child could read another novel. She received a rather nasty email from a father who said he was going to let his child read the novel, but basically drug my mother through the mud for assigning the book in class.
     
  8. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    You'd be discussed here...and if the hiring committee knew some of your views and activities they might not hire you in the first place...but I think once you are hired, you should probably be good.
     
  9. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    I don't suspect you'll take this seriously, but I would look at removing the Darwin fish and the In Reason We Trust. These are clearly taking what are known as Christian phrases/symbols and twisting them. While you say they are not insulting, many in the Bible Belt would be insulted. In fact, I am mildly offended by the phrase of "in reason we trust" as it insinuates that people who trust in God are not reasonable. Do I understand your feelings? Yes.

    Having said that, if I were in charge of hiring and firing, would I base my decision on your bumper stickers? No, I wouldn't. But, I don't know that everyone would be as lenient as me. Particularly in a conservative area.
     
  10. redtop

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    If I may ask, what is the controversy over "Of Mice And Men?" What have I missed while watching good Communist propaganda like "High Noon?"
     
  11. ATwainedTeacher

    ATwainedTeacher Rookie

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    The language. There's quite a bit of G**d*** and other naughty words in the novel, plus minor references to liquor, prostitution and sex. These are all in the scope of Steinbeck's realism, but that's a hard sell at times.

    I loved the book when I was in high school. My husband, who was not much of a reader, said it was the only book in high school that he enjoyed. It's a favorite among students, especially the hardened "country boys" in our area. Mother said it's the only book that, for years, these type of boys in her classes have ever truly enjoyed. Unfortunately, it has a history of being a controversial novel to read in schools.
     
  12. redtop

    redtop Companion

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    Oh my goodness. I didn't realize that anything harder than Nancy Drew was verboten.

    Well, time for me to go back to reading my Greek mythology - what's this book, "Atlas" or "Hercules" - no, sorry, "Ulysses." Yeah, that's the one.
     
  13. TeachTN

    TeachTN Comrade

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    In my senior year of HS, I vividly remember reading Dante's Inferno a LOVED it - I keep telling myself I need to re-read it again.

    As for politics/religion, they definitely stay OUT of the classroom. Even though I teach Social Studies, I have been asked by students about my religion/political opinions. Instead of asking, I choose to give them all sides of the issue (when appropriate). I usually state that religion is a personal matter and that our great Constitution allows us to practice or not practice any religion we choose (so long as there is no harm associated).

    Even in right to work states (TN is also one), there are unions. Most, if not all, of the counties in my state have a county union that is a branch of the NEA. I plan to join one when I am hired for the liability protection, since I like my house and possessions :)
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I feel like it's pretty simple: do what you want on your own time, stay neutral while you're on contract time.

    Part of the reason for not sharing certain personal beliefs (I'm speaking here of religion and politics in particular) is that it can alienate some students or make them feel uncomfortable. A student who has conservative opinions might believe that a liberal teacher might grade or treat them unfairly. Of course this should never happen, but it can be a very real fear for students. The same can be true when it comes to religious stuff. To avoid this, just stay neutral.

    I'll also add this: The tone from your posts, and I could be wrong about this, seems to be that you might get a sort of thrill in being controversial and causing arguments. I think that you should be very careful about doing those things when you are at school. Great teachers are the ones who can develop connections with students and colleagues, and that won't happen if people are uncomfortable in your presence because they worry that you're going to go on the attack in order to make it known just how extreme you are.
     
  15. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Join a professional organization that has a legal department and some liability protection.
     
  16. SF_Giants66

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    "In Reason We Trust" is my actual state license plate, not a sticker. I can only really believe someone would find that offensive if they didn't believe in trusting in reasoning.

    A Darwin fish means you support evolutionary science.
     
  17. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    The only other thing I would mention is being careful about talking or advertising about your profession at your outside of school events. I don't mean don't mention it to someone you are talking to. I do mean not wearing a school t-shirt that indicates your a teacher at a specific school or talking about it in a speech if you are in such position.
     
  18. ATwainedTeacher

    ATwainedTeacher Rookie

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    ^^^ This ^^^
     
  19. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Oh, come on.

    I refuse to believe you don't understand that taking phrases and symbols of a group and changing it to support an opposing belief can be annoying, obnoxious, or bothersome.

    I was annoyed and said so here several weeks ago when Christians took the red equal sign on Facebook showing equal gay rights and turned it into the cross. It's just...childish.
     
  20. Mr.history

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    Sorry but I don't think what you described would fly in the schools around me.(I'm assuming your probably in a similar area) We were told during student teaching to be very careful not to display any kind of political message on our cars, belongings, or in our teaching. When I was at the school I noticed that NONE of the other teachers had such bumper stickers on their car.

    The fact that your views are probably against the majority of your students wouldn't help either. How do you think your students will react to you with those messages on your car?(if you teach high school especially they will notice) I can tell you around here it would probably wreck your classroom atmosphere when students are bringing up what they know about you. You would also probably get parent complaints trying to get you in trouble.(probably about things completely unrelated to this)

    To be honest I just don't think whatever you gain by displaying these messages is worth the hassle you will find in your day to day job.
     
  21. SF_Giants66

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    If a school advises me against displaying political beliefs on my car, the first time I see someone wearing a letter T necklace or letter T earrings (or what Christians call a cross), I will make sure to make mention of that as well. Just because my political views go against the majority in the area doesn't mean I should have to shut up about them.
     
  22. SF_Giants66

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    Basically how Christians took the fish from paganism, or how they took the virgin birth, miracles, and healing sick people from Pagans too.
     
  23. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    :rolleyes:
    It's being done now to make a point and be abrasive.
     
  24. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    The trouble with making a point through abrasiveness is that it generally tends to dull the point.
     
  25. SF_Giants66

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    I'm sorry, but I am not being a material or substance used for grinding, polishing, etc.
     
  26. redtop

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    I suspect my politics are very slightly to the left of yours. But I still think you're being an ***, and maybe you should accept the consensus of the people posting in this thread.

    There was this ****-for-brains judge in Alabama named Roy Moore, he's the one who insisted on posting the Ten Commandments in his courtroom, even after the State Judicial Ethics commission told him not to. (I think he eventually lost his judgeship over it.) And I used to think how I would feel if I were a Muslim or Hindu appearing before this guy. So how would a student feel free to express the opinion that Ted Cruz is the kindest bravest warmest most wonderful human being ever to serve in the United States Senate?" if that's what the adolescent fool wants to believe?

    The last company I worked for would tolerate almost anything - people used yoga balls for chairs, kept kids toys in their offices, decorated their offices with movie posters, worked from 6 to 2 or noon to 9, wore business suits or T-shirts and flip-flops - but there were two things that would get you ****-canned in a New York minute. Smoking on campus and anti-gay opinions. So you didn't smoke and if you were homophobic you kept your mouth shut. So have a little good sense and keep your mouth shut, at least while you have your "teacher suit" on.
     
  27. Mr.history

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    You may be able to fight this with administration, although would it really be worth making your job harder/causing issues with your boss over this?

    However how will you handle students who could/probably will call you out on this whenever possible. What are you going to do in a parent conference when the parents complain that your indoctrinating their child and thats why they can't do their homework. What will you do if you have parent complaints that make you look bad to the administration. All of this could happen and in small towns this probably could cost you your job or at least make your job miserable.
     
  28. SF_Giants66

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    So, you're saying that parents are gonna complain about a teacher just because they don't like their political views?
     
  29. SF_Giants66

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    The problem is I was talking about speaking out in public and putting bumper stickers on cars. I don't think a parent would have much of an indoctrination case in classrooms over that.
     
  30. Bella2010

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    I think what he's getting at is that SOME parents can be real nut jobs and will gripe over anything. Anything is possible in the realm of parents. Doesn't make it right. It's just one of those "it is what it is" things.

    Beth
     
  31. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Would you stand up against anti Christian rhetoric if you encountered it in school with the same energy you put towards anti racism discussions? Would you defend a conservative politician (like Romney) in the same way you defended Obama?
     
  32. SF_Giants66

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    I would stand up against bullying or harassment yes. However, the issues I opened with seemed to discuss speaking out about your views outside of the classroom and admitting to them if asked in the class. Not about proselytizing the children.
     
  33. teachinnola

    teachinnola Rookie

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    Scary to think someone teaching our children cannot pull up a dictionary in the age of the internet :|. Of course, I'd say you're being purposefully obtuse and obnoxious, and it's scary to think that someone teaching our children can be so militantly opposed to hearing out anyone saying anything reasonable, but I am sure the conversation would just devolve from there since you are not an angle greater than 90 degrees....
     
  34. SF_Giants66

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    I actually disagree. I think enjoying arguing would make me a great teacher. There is nothing two rational people can't discuss. I hate people throwing all this stuff around about how there are these topics you just can't discuss. It gets annoying that people can't disagree without getting offended.
     
  35. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Not everyone wants to engage in mental, political, or religious fisticuffs with you, though. Your incessant need to argue is off-putting. That's what offends people, not necessarily your beliefs. You're like forcing yourself and your position onto people who don't want it.
     
  36. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Exactly. I understand and even agree with much of what he says, yet it's still so obnoxiously presented.
     
  37. SF_Giants66

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    I was paying tribute to John Adams.
     
  38. SF_Giants66

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    Anyway, for what it is worth, I do thank those who tried to provide helpful advice. I am kind of addicted to arguing a bit, but that doesn't mean I'm not appreciative of people's time and efforts. Arguing is just my way of showing passion sometimes.
     
  39. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I had a parent complain that I used light blue paper for my newsletter. She wanted red. (Yes, she had a reputation for such things, but still....)

    Some people will find something to complain about.

    Try not to give them ammo.
     
  40. SF_Giants66

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    This was kind of why I was hoping to have a union to protect me so parents can gripe all they want and they can't fire me without justified cause, but I have to work in the state for a couple years to pay off 10k of tuition.
     
  41. pete2770

    pete2770 Comrade

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    Even in very thick union areas you won't get much, if any, short term support for being let go.

    Admin can let me go without reason until I'm tenured.

    Be a chameleon :).
     
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