While the teacher unions of Oakland, California are enjoying the Occupy protests, just down the road in the Alameda
school district, the teachers union has been busy working on behalf of its top priority.
Surprise, surprise - students are not at the top of the union concern list.
It seems the district was in the rare position of having $1.1 million left over from last year's budget.
Alameda school board members, being the student advocates they are, voted 4-1 on Oct. 25 to use the money to purchase textbooks, fund programs aimed at boosting math, reading and writing skills, pay for after-school programs at two underperforming schools and establish a program designed to encourage parents to be more involved in their kids' education.
That certainly sounds like a reasonable use of school funds, particularly during a period of economic distress and lackluster student performance.
But the Alameda Education Association
, the district's teachers union, objects to that plan. Union leaders want the money spent on bonuses for teachers.
School board members say they will take care of the teachers in the next round of contract negotiations, which are scheduled to begin in January. But that's not good enough for the union.
"It's a little bit insulting, and I think teachers - that's how we're feeling," union president Gary Harris
. "We want this to be, we're all on the same side working together. They're creating two sides here, and that's unfortunate."
Hold on. This is a public school, operated for the benefit of students, right? Student needs should be the first priority, right? Shouldn't everyone in education be on the students' side?
Oh, that's right. We're dealing with teachers unions here. Let us never forget the famous quote from Albert Shanker
, former president of the American Federation of Teachers
, who candidly said, "When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren."
Shanker is dead, but his philosophy is obviously alive and well within the teachers union movement.