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home : opinions : opinions February 5, 2016

10/10/2012 1:16:00 PM
COLUMN: Where's the focus?
Bob Weete

When I first came to Blythe in 1964, it was considered professional to join my professional organizations, so I signed up for Palo Verde Teachers Association, California Teachers Association, and National Education Association. Although it was not required or mandated, there was the general feeling that it was considered "professional" to belong to these groups.

As I was relatively new to teaching, I paid my dues. And, as years went on, I became active in the associations, and even had a term as president. I attended a number of CTA functions, conferences, and I listened, and learned, and was quite involved.

I felt this was a "professional" organization. It was not like that other teacher group - the Federal Teachers folks. They were a "union" as distinguished from my "professional group". I had seen enough Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney movies and their union activities - probably centered in Chicago - and I knew that that was a pretty rough bunch. I certainly was not interested in their kind of tactics.

As time went on, somebody referred to my professional organizations as a "union" and I was very much offended. I felt that teachers in general did not get the appreciation they deserved, and I found that respect for teachers, during the latter part of my career, was disappearing. I worked hard, and I loved working with kids.

When I decided to go into teaching, it had not been a love of money that led me there. Yet, at the same time, I found that at one time my salary was pretty close to what was considered the poverty line. That was a concern, with three young children to support.

I remember noticing when I went to the lounge, much of the discussion there was griping and groaning about one thing and another. At lunch it was much the same, with certain seats "reserved" for certain people. Not all were like that, but it bothered me.

So, I began to spend my planning period in my room, and I also ate my lunch there. During lunch, some kids frequently came in, and that was a good time spent. Along with these observations, I noticed that a number of teachers were pretty much "on the clock", and some were there almost at the exact time they were required to be, and when it was time to go, they left in a whirlwind of dust.

Well, you get the picture. I am not criticizing teachers, mind you, but, like any profession, there are the slugs. And, unfortunately, it's the slugs who get the most publicity, and it sounds like teachers in general are worthless. I know that to be untrue, as I have known many really good teachers.

There is much talk about the tenure issue, and frankly, I have a problem with that. It seemed to me that no teacher should have to be concerned about being fired, if they always gave teaching their best. Yet, I also know that administrators, like some teachers, have their "pets", and they slide through. They somehow were not required to follow all the rules in the same way as others.

For example, if there was a rule that students could not bring food or drink into the classes, some teachers were "too busy teaching" to bother with a stupid rule and they allowed it, anyway. They didn't want to be bothered.

Of course, at the same time, if an administrator doesn't care for the teacher, when that teacher sent a student in for violating a class rule, the student was made to believe that the teacher was at fault, having a "bad day".

As I have said before, consistency is crucial in teaching, whether at school or at home. In school, the rules of behavior must be clearly stated and consistently applied. For teacher behavior, student behavior, and even parent behavior.

So, we have teacher unions. How are they influencing the art of teaching?

Well, let's see: (1) they have made devoted teachers into clock-watchers. I understand that few teachers "volunteer" for much of anything anymore. They'll do it for extra pay, only. Sad, because teachers and students both lose out. (2) Teachers are told (by their union bosses) they have their "rights". They do, indeed. But, they also have the responsibility to produce a better mouse trap.

And the public demands that talented, well-rounded, well-adjusted, motivated young adults will be the end product. And many parents expect that their children will be "transformed" by the magic of teachers giving their child the special attention that their darlings deserve.

And the administrators want good scores so their records will be shining, and the school board? Well, they are looking for accolades, too, to help them win re-election next time round. What is wrong - dreadfully wrong - with this picture? It's all about "me". Our focus is not really on kids, but on what their actions say about us. I don't condone the concept that the world centers on making the kids happy. I do, however, suggest that our focus should be on their happiness - but on their happiness and success as adults.

More to come...

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, October 20, 2012
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

Did any of you ever consider that he did mistake the 2nd Amendment for the 1st Amendment. hehehe. Just joking, Mr. Weete is not like that. He just hit the wrong key. That's my guess.

Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Article comment by: @Bob's Beauties

For such a strict adherent to the Constitution, you sure seem to be playing fast and loose with the Bill of Rights. I'm no constitutional law professor, but I'm pretty sure free speech is covered in the first amendment.

You poor confused old man. The world has indeed passed you by.

Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Article comment by: @Bob Weete

I think you meant to say the FIRST amendment-- unless you really are intending to etch your name on the bullets you would aim...
@crazy town-- the problem with your list of achievements for our President is that they are all supported by facts that have been substantiated by the best economists in the country and the righties just can't stand that. I agree that for all the bluster about being Christian, most seem to have lost sight of the real teachings of Jesus, no religion required...

Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Article comment by: Court Jester

@ Crazy Town

How is it possible for one person to drink that much kool-aid?

Posted: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Article comment by: Bob Weete

I am totally flattered by your generous accolades concerning my "pearls of wisdom", and I do appreciate your nomination. However, according some of your assumed other comments, I suppose I am much, much too old to do that. As it is, I plan to continue with what I do. I am not, sadly, inclined to seek power by running for school board though God knows there is a real need to fill the positions with people with integrity, intelligence, and caring. I continue to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights by sharing my beliefs - with my real name boldly displayed. And you can exercise your rights to whatever it is you call it with what I suspect is a phony name. Advanced apologies if I am incorrect in believe the name you gave is really yours. God bless you, my dear friend and supporter.

Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Article comment by: Crazy Town

we went from losing jobs to gaining jobs

we went from increasing unemployment to decreasing unemployment

we went from a growing deficit to a shrinking deficit

we went from a shrinking stock market to a growing stock market

According to the GOP platform they want to abolish abortion and make it illegal to have one. They want to give 14th amendment rights to a fetus. What this will do is cost us more lives than the unwanted children that are abused, raped, and murdered every year cost us. We need more social programs, not less. I can't understand why money is so important to so many. Money can buy you things and make you happy(I guess), but can it give you humility and kindness? Not that I have experienced. Not to mention I don't know ANYONE, including my professional friends, that don't benefit in some way from the policies the President supports. That goes for the ultra rich as well, they benefitted greatly from the stock market. The problem is that they aren't making it fast enough and there are not enough victims of their greed the way Obama does it. It's sick.

Jesus fed the poor and cured the sick. What would he do?

Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Article comment by: Court Jester

@ Booger

I want "CHANGE" also. Change from a bumbling campaigner that can only give speaches and play golf. Give apologies instead of backing the USA. Throwing billions away on green energy but only to the firms that made contributions to his campaign. One of these years, maybe a third party might have a chance. But for now, I will VOTE for Romney.

Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Article comment by: Booger Red

To @Booger Red ... That's all YOU can come up with.?!! What does the HISTORY of Chicago have to do with it? Every other comment from Bob is just the same crap. Give it a break. Philly, New York, etc etc etc. ALL have a history of Union Crime.If you think Bob just picked Chicago out of a hat, you're the perfect Romneyite! Try thinking for yourself FOR A CHANGE!!

Posted: Sunday, October 14, 2012
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

@EL PICA PERSON. Just like when I complain about something or make a bad comment about something, I do not like. What do they write to me. Quit whining and do something about it. If they can't do anything about the place they are in. Then change the Administration. Instead of giving all of that union money to the Democrats, they should use it to work for change here in this city. It was Brown that slashed the Education Budget. They should form a committee to get these people unelected from office. You know who the problems are vote them out of office. In telling a coach to quit because his kids are not doing well. That's a bad example. They would fire that Coach. Plain and simple. But sometimes to get things moving you have to get the Natives riled up. They themselves will have to look deep within themselves. To see if this is worth fighting for. If not, then let another person take it on. The public can also help them by also voting in the right people. The people the teachers recommend. Remember when little johnny or jenny have no penciles or papers and other school supplies to do their school work. Let the parents know whos at fault here. Let the people know why. Lay the blame where it belongs. If they want it that bad, then fight for it.

Posted: Saturday, October 13, 2012
Article comment by: @El Pica

Some time you're "on", and then sometimes you are Bidenish. Most teachers do go into the profession knowing they'll never get rich. They actually go into teaching because they love working with kids - warts and all. They weren't all "One for me and all for me" Musketeers. Telling them to quit is not the answer. Telling a coach to quit when his kids don't perform well is not the answer, usually, either. When you have a teacher who ocassionally gets "down", a little encouragement goes a long way. No profession is always a bed of roses. A teacher who quits giving everything he's got, teaches the kids the wrong message. A teacher who quits teaching because things aren't going well teaches kids to quit when the going gets tough. Kids these days certainly do not need to learn that lesson. They need to learn the lesson from "When the going gets tough, the tough get going". And I don't mean give up an chicken out. Unless, of course, you find you really did make a bad choice by going into teachi8ng. And don't decide to quit just because someone else decides your beliefs are divergent from theirs. Hang in there teachers. But be sure, whichever way you decide.

Posted: Saturday, October 13, 2012
Article comment by: Kellerman R. Frindel

Dear Mr. Weete,
As I believe I stated in response to one of your editorials several years ago, you seem to have many pearls of wisdom to share with this community. Why don't you run for a school board position, or at least give a series of presentations during school board meetings, and share your vast wealth of knowledge? I believe a man is measured by his actions. What would you rather do, Mr. Weete, stand on your own two feet and state your position at a board meeting or hide behind a keyboard and the First Amendment? I guess that choice ultimately lays within your own hands.

Posted: Friday, October 12, 2012
Article comment by: Harold Ray

It seems to me that all comments on 'opinions' center on todays politics, and the commentators feeliings and or beliefs, so here is mine.

"We live in the greatest country in the world, amd it is time for change" Duh!!!!

Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

Look the people that decided to go to College and study to become Teachers, They knew that it was low pay, long hours. Plus a bunch of rude and ungrateful students and parents. If you are tired then quit your jobs. Get a job application at the prison because it seems that people are also complaining about being scared working there. When they also signed up for the job. They knew it was not a preschool. Again if they do not like it there then also quit. It's like when you join the Military. You know that they will not shoot you with snow balls. Welcome to the real world people.

Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Article comment by: @also retired

Yes they had all of these then, but not referred to as "union". The strike lasted three days.

Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Article comment by: also retired

Just a historical point: the teachers of this district did not have a union until 1977, after a teachers' strike. Does anyone else remember this event? Whether local teachers had any access to the state or national unions, I'm not sure. Is it possible that my memory ain't what it used to be?

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