You’re Pregnant, You’re Fired – Why Teachers Have Unions…For Now

Dr. Ken Noble followed his Depression-era parents into the teaching profession in Royal Oak, Michigan four years before Governor Romney (R) signed a law permitting collective bargaining for public workers.  In 2010, Ken shared his perspective with teachers struggling with the need for a teachers union in a district that would eventually impose an historically severe retroactive pay-cut on its teachers. I have been out of the classroom and away from the negotiating table for so long I do not know how much my thoughts will help you, but since you asked . . .The evolution of teacher duties and compensation is actually quite interesting. Promising Obedience Before collective bargaining each teacher had an individual contract and served “at the will” of the school board.  In the late 1930’s my parents had contracts about the size of a current postcard.  In each contract the teacher acknowledged that the “right to… Read More…

Do you have a “beautiful question” you’d like to share with the world?

Today, March 14, is “Question Day 2014,” in honor of that master questioner Albert Einstein, who was born on this date, 135 years ago. Einstein is known for his curiosity and passion for questioning. He told us, “The important thing is not to stop questioning” and urged us to “Question everything” and “Never lose a holy curiosity.” I happen to be very interested in questioning myself. My book, A More Beautiful Question, is all about the surprising power of questioning to transform our lives and spark big breakthroughs. The book was published last week by Bloomsbury and now, of course, I’m in full promotion mode. And that’s why I couldn’t just let Einstein’s birthday pass by without marking it. An official Einstein’s birthday / Question Day connection was made in 2008 when National Question Day was declared by an entity called the Inquiry Institute. This year, in partnership with the nonprofit… Read More…

The Four Ignored Elephants of Quality in the Classroom & Teacher Retention

I was reminded of Winnie the Pooh and his hallucinogenic-trip, envisioning heffalumps and woozles, the other day… My priest was giving me an update on contract talks with his elementary teachers. “I tell them, ‘You only work 3/4 of the day and 3/4 of the year, why should you expect full-pay anyway?’” I wanted to say “Yeah, Padre, and you only work three hours on Sundays and get free clothing, room and board.” But then I’d have to escort him to the confessional right afterwards for absolution of the sin of sarcasm. *** I gave up my calling last summer and quit public school teaching after 25 years. That was never my plan; I was going to go 40 years. It wasn’t “kids today,” parental apathy or even standardized testing. Frankly, we were going broke. After my state and city imposed four years of pay-cuts–including a 9% six-month retroactive cut… Read More…