OUR STUDENTS,
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FROM AN EDUCATOR'S PERSPECTIVE

We can bring voice to Alliance Schools – Gary Carter, Morgan McKinzie HS

My name is Gary Carter and I have been a multimedia teacher at Morgan McKinzie since 2010, when it was called Media Arts. I have grown to love my job, my students, my colleagues, and the community the school serves. The students I teach are learning valuable, marketable technological skills, which shows foresight on Alliance’s part.

What I feel does not show foresight on Alliance’s part is its negative response to the mere possibility of its teachers forming a union. Since our open letter announcing our intention to unionize was published last year, Alliance has launched a barrage of anti-union propaganda and, at the same time, implemented “damage control” measures to appear more responsive to its teachers. This implies that we teachers don’t have enough sense to think for ourselves or have a real voice through our union in how our organization can better serve students.

The extent to which Alliance is pushing against the idea of unionization speaks volumes. I don’t believe Alliance’s leadership, as fellow educators — who say they put students’ interests first — should make it difficult for us as teachers and counselors to form our union as a tool to advocate for ourselves and our students. If Alliance is truly interested in serving at-risk populations, it should spend more resources on students – from books to supplies to physical facilities – and less on fighting its own pro-union educators.

I’ve seen the power of unions first-hand and I’ve seen what the gradual dismantling of the unions since the 80s has done to the middle class. It has all but disappeared, creating a scenario where one feels lucky to have a job. It should not be that way.

Having a strong union behind us would give assurance that we can continue with the Alliance for our careers. Having a strong union would mean eliminating instability in our salaries and insecurity in our jobs – with students ultimately the ones benefitting from lower turnover and greater retention of dedicated teachers.

Having a union offers the clout of solidarity to those of us who want to earn a living and dedicate our lives to teaching in the classroom. We all know Alliance has attracted genuine, gifted teachers who want to make a difference. We deserve to have more than a token voice toward what happens in the classroom. WE teachers should be the main voice in making those decisions, not data-crunchers and consultants wanting to test out the next generation of products, which sometimes feel like they are designed to make teachers a less necessary part of the classroom or impose on us an impersonal “one-size-fits-all” approach to education.

Teaching magic cannot happen when creativity is stifled. The union levels the playing field, and gives us a much stronger voice in the classroom. I appeal to those of you who want to be career teachers with Alliance: stand with me and your colleagues who are forming the union. Together we can counteract the trend toward impersonal, corporate-style education. The charter system was devised to promote a teacher-led approach to education. Somehow that vision has too often gotten lost. By standing up for ourselves, WE can bring that voice to Alliance schools.
Sincerely,

Gary Carter
Media Arts Teacher
Morgan McKinzie HS

See all updates at http://www.allianceeducators.com/newsletter-archive/