This is part of an Educaton Week piece called "Rotten Apples to Martyrs":
For years, teachers continually heard the message that they were the root of problems in schools. But in a matter of months, the public narrative has shifted: The nation is increasingly concerned about teachers' low salaries and challenging working conditions.
Teachers, it seems, are no longer bad actors ruining schools—they're victims of an unfair system, and the only hope for saving kids.
Before, "there seemed to be a lot of teacher blaming going on," said David Labaree, a professor emeritus at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. "You now see a surprising degree of growing sympathy for teachers."
Of course, the recent wave of teacher walkouts and protests, which were mainly driven at the grassroots level by individual teachers rather than unions, helped catalyze new feelings about the profession. But other factors played roles as well: Social media offered more visibility into teachers' lives, from the second jobs some work to make ends meet to their out-of-pocket spending for classroom supplies. Evidence emerged that teacher-quality initiatives centered on student testing—which had become unpopular—haven't worked. Even the election of President Donald Trump, which spurred a growing wave of activism across the country, has had an impact.
And while many teachers are pleased to be seen in a more sympathetic light, some warn that martyrizing teachers is a blow to their professionalism.
"We'd rather just be paid well and treated well" than deemed heroes, said David Cohen, a veteran high school teacher in Palo Alto, Calif.
In NYC, we don't make poverty wages but with the very high cost of living here in the Big Apple, we are not exactly wealthy. When it comes to the working conditions, we certainly can argue that we long to be "treated well" as our friend from California asks. We certainly can call our working conditions "challenging."
Education Week emphasizes that the teacher walkouts and protests came from the rank and file and not the unions. Until teachers wake up and realize we have the power but must collectively use it ourselves, not much is going to change here in NYC for the better. The UFT leadership has it pretty good here and doesn't want to rock the boat at all.
I can already see the comments saying that we should withhold union dues when we get the chance in 2019 to starve the UFT beast to force them to support us in the schools. In response I can tell you that we won't have to withhold any union dues and can harness the full stength of the union if we just demand change. It won't be easy but it will be much faster than starving the union and then hoping something better rises out of the mess.