Having a Vision in Education – What Are You Prepared to Do?

In previous session long projects, the assignment was to identify the position we chose for the semester. Additionally, it was also required to explain the vision for this position. The position that I chose was the teachers union President. The vision was to increase dental coverage, introduce teacher mentoring, and to increase teacher salaries.

In order for the organization to experience the guidance it needs, there are several changes that I feel need to happen immediately. For example, the current members of the union team (vice-president, treasurer, and secretary) should all be replaced. Another example is to create a position to oversee the mentorship of new teachers. Lastly, the contract negotiation team should be people who are not in the union. They will be an outside entity whose only responsibility is to serve the union’s interests concerning salaries.

Currently, the members of the union are voted by its members. However, the terms are indefinite. Therefore, there are members of the union that have been in influential positions since the late 1980’s. The educational structure has changed yet the union representation has not. New members would bring a fresh and motivated outlook to the union. In order for the vision to work it requires people that can inspire hope in others as well as believe that what they do actually amounts to something good. Older members of the union have the inability to gather momentum and sometimes think that in fact you cannot teach “an old dog new tricks.” I would also ask that each school in the city have one or two designated union representatives at each workplace. These would consist of normal faculty members who have a direct link to the common core of the union. This would increase the amount of communication and ultimately make the organization stronger.

The next step in the organizational structure would be to create a mentorship team. This mentorship team would be responsible for overseeing the mentoring of new teachers. The team would also be responsible for keeping new members of the union involved in union matters. New faculty has always complained that they knew that they were in a union only because union dues were taken out of their paycheck. With the new mentorship program, teachers would see their union dues do more and will also increase the amount of support needed to strengthen the organization.

Every three years the contract of union members is discussed. It is during this trying time that the city cries poverty and the teacher’s cry even harder. The negotiation team usually consists of seven to ten members of the union. In recent years they have been very self-invested in the outcome of the contract. For example, in a recent new contract signing there were several added measures to the contract that selfishly improved the lives of those on the negotiation team. When it was examined closer it was revealed that the team was there to negotiate for themselves and not for the union as a whole. Therefore, I suggest that an outside company (non-profit) team be established to handle the negotiations. Only the four elected union officials will oversee this team. I feel this new added faucet will bring a more realistic view of the world to the negotiating table. These changes are necessary; otherwise the union will continue to settle for 2% salary increases when the cost of living increases by 3%. Union members are losing money every year.

To lead people you have to inspire them. You have to look them in the eye and say, “follow me”. You have to be confident and make decisions that are best for the future of the organization. Leaders don’t have to be liked. Leaders have to be trusted and they have to earn respect. Most people don’t like change. Change in the union is necessary for the organization to better serve its members. The common goal is to make the lives of its members better. Implementing the vision I have will accomplish better lives for teachers. No teacher will ever be rich in money, but they will be rich in empowerment and job satisfaction if my vision is realized.

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