While I may take issue with certain parts of the PFT and teacher's unions in general, I am a firm supporter in the idea that we need and deserve some kind of support structure for ourselves. There are too much grudges, too much animosity, and too much political wrangling (see earlier post) - we need some kind of support structure.
Yesterday saw a large win for our union. Hope Moffett, English teacher at Audenreid, was let back to her building to continue building her student's community in the best way she knows how: education. The union fought and won her right to come back into the classroom days after it was announced she would be fired. That is the purpose of unions - to support those who are wrongly in danger.
Moreover, there is some data to show that unions - for whatever reason - may actually help the student population. A recent editorial in the Washington Post analyzed this and showed how states with strong unions tended to perform better on national assessment than those that didn't. While I don't claim to know everything about this study, it does make a somewhat compelling argument.
Instead of focusing the conversation on blaming the teachers, student, parents, or community, can't we bring everyone together to agree that our general society has a lot to do with it? If my students went home to a safe home every night to supportive families at home when they got there (i.e. not working to support the family), no need to impress others by buying or stealing the latest fashion, and no worry about losing peer support for being smart, then maybe things would be different.