A listening post monitoring public education and teachers’ unions.

What a Union Is All About

Written By: Mike Antonucci   – Jun• 30•09

Today’s lesson comes courtesy of Bernadette Marso, president of the Leominster Education Association in Massachusetts. Her members just voted down, by a 305-47 margin, a five-year, $856,000 grant from the Advanced Placement Training and Award Program. The program, among other things, pays teachers of Advanced Placement courses bonus money “if they successfully recruit more students to take AP courses and if the students perform well on the end-of-the-year AP exam.”

Some district officials and parents complained about the union decision because the bonuses were just one part of the program, which includes professional development and a subsidy to offset the AP exam fee for the students. But the union stood firmly opposed.

“We understand that some people will not understand the vote, but we confronted this from a union perspective,” Marso said. “We have a fair and equitable contract with the district, and to have a third party come in and start paying certain teachers more money than other hard-working teachers goes against what a union is all about.”


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  1. Union says ‘no’ to AP bonus at Joanne Jacobs says:

    […] Via EIA Intercepts. […]

  2. College & University Blog » Blog Archive » Teachers Reject Grant from Exxon-, Gates-backed Nonprofit says:

    […] In other words, teachers are saying putting all kids first, not just the AP kids and teachers. That’s what a union is about. […]

  3. David says:

    No, that is NOT what they are saying and it is NOT what a “union is all about”. Unions are, by the very nature, about preserving the myth that all workers are identical and interchangeable. If you start admitting some workers are better than others, and if the better workers get rewarded for it, those better workers start wondering why they need a union. Pretty soon you have a union of just the bad workers, and the union dissolves. THAT is why unions always oppose differentiation, performance pay, etc.

    But of course they’ll always piously put their hands over their hearts and say, “It’s for the children.” The union is the ONLY participant in the education debate that has any interest other than the children, and it’s a selfish interest.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    What a terrible vote! What is wrong with these people? I may be biased, because I am an AP teacher, and I have trained intensely to teach AP. I work my tail off. I KNOW I am smarter, more competent, more intellectual, and more qualified than the other teachers at my school (esp ones who do not teach AP). I am also very poorly paid, despite all that I do.

    Teaching AP is actually quite a burden. Teachers are held to a higher standard. Lesson planning takes longer. AP teachers often offer more individual attention. They also get in lots of trouble if students don’t perform well (and this is not really fair, as poor performance can often be linked to STUDENT laziness, or the CollegeBoard’s crazy quota-grade system).

    I truly deserve more $$ for teaching AP. It’s incredibly sad that I don’t get any…and I am wondering why I even bother. THANK YOU DAVID for your intelligent words!

    I just wish everyone got it as you do, and that these stupid unions were dissolved so that teachers who do more might actually get ahead.

  5. […] Here is another example of how unions are bad for students; a union in Massachusetts voted to turn down an $860,000 grant, to help students improve their AP scores, because some teachers would have been […]

  6. Mark says:

    You people are not thinking this through. The school administration determines who teaches AP courses, not the teachers. If AP course teachers then get outside bonuses it becomes devisive to the cooperation of teachers. That is not good for the kids at all. What if textbook companies wanted to sponsor teachers?

  7. Candice says:

    The elimination of AP courses caps the advancement of a child’s knowledge, and the expertise of a teacher’s practice.

    A lot of rhetoric circulates about differentiation for students performing below grade level. However, it is the moral obligation of a school to provide differentiation for students and teachers willing to work the extra hours, look differently and more closely at literature, art, or history.

    AP courses not only refine a teacher’s practice, but offer students the chance to develop a critical eye, and their reading and writing skills in a way that assures college preparedness.

    If you would like to believe that all children and teachers perform at the same level, none worthy of a reward for better work, and you are willing to cap the progression of a child’s knowledge at the expense of such a belief, you are certainly meeting your goals.

    Equality is not fair.