Friday, April 29, 2011

Professional Development as Union Breaker?

So what's behind these new models of professional development? Well, it seems an underlying motive on the part of administrators is to create a a subtle hierarchy among teachers.

This new model of professional development has all the makings of 21st century union breaking. By providing financial motivation to break rank and declare themselves more worthy of roles like teacher leaders and teacher coaches, school administrators feed the battered egos of their teachers and, at the same time, loosen a brick in the union wall.

Initially, many districts are providing temporary financial incentives to take on professional development. It would seem harmless enough. After all, administrators might argue, this isn't a blow to the union contract because professional development has always been separate from annual salary.

So much of the professional development isn't about becoming a better teacher, but about becoming different than one's colleagues. What does professional development look like in your schools? Are they providing incentives or compensation for research into literacy, into building new models of education, into being a better teacher?

I'm guessing in your district professional development has little to do with building a better teacher for students but has a lot to do with building a hierarchy of teachers who will eventually see themselves not as a united front, but as separate factions willing to do each other in for a salary bump or financial token.

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