Steve Taffee on Teachers’ Unions and Independent Schools

Read education journals or blogs for any length of time, and one thing quickly becomes apparent: educators are obsessed with the idea of “innovation.” And rightly so. But the ways in which we conceive of innovation tend to be confined to the classroom. One reason I so enjoy Steve Taffee’s blog, Blogg-ed Indetermination, is because he frequently offers an innovative perspective on the more mundane practicalities of school life–everything from classroom architecture to lab safety.

In today’s post, he offers a terrific take on why a relatively old idea–teachers’ unions–might be a crucial innovation for independent schools in the 21st century.

As Taffee correctly points out, there are very real concerns about the economic sustainability of the independent school model over the long-term. Particularly if we hope to make our schools more–not less–diverse, we must find new ways of keeping costs down while still providing a high-quality educational experience.

When you’re talking about someone’s kids, though, slash-and-burn accounting is unacceptable. As I’ve said before on this blog, in education–even private education–the bottom line shouldn’t be the bottom line.

Taffee puts it like this:

Financial pressures in independent schools, coupled with the need to demonstrate curricular leadership, may lead to the expectation for teachers to adopt new practices despite diminished support for professional development activities. Sabbatical programs, educational travel to conferences, released time for course development and collaboration may be compromised. Who is going to protect the ongoing investment in faculty and staff to guarantee that the quality of teaching and learning is maintained?

I encourage all independent school educators to read this terrific post.


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