In Wichita, public school teacher working conditions are an issue

Larry Landwehr, president of United Teachers of Wichita, the union for Wichita public school teachers, recently addressed the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, regarding teacher morale and working conditions.

Now that the district and the teachers union have reached an agreement on a contract, Landwehr said it’s time to look at other issues, those not part of the contract negotiations.

Employee morale, he said, is a major concern today. Specific factors he cited were “current economic conditions that teachers face, the long negotiations, the increased paperwork and workload placed upon educators over the past few years, the decline in academic freedom and professional judgment of the teachers, and the added pressure of meeting AYP.”

(AYP, or adequate yearly progress, refers to the standards set by the No Child Left Behind legislation.)

He hopes for “serious discussion,” working to create an environment that is best for all stakeholders.

Landwehr’s concerns over teacher morale and working conditions are not unique to the Wichita school district. Earlier this year the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice published a study titled Free To Teach: What teachers say about teaching in public and private schools. This study revealed sharp differences in attitudes towards working conditions between public and private school teachers. Some of Landwher’s expressed concerns are mentioned in this document.

In my coverage of the report I wondered this: Since nearly all public school teachers belong to a union and practically no private school teachers belong, what are the teachers unions doing? Don’t the unions care about the working conditions of their members?

Landwehr’s message to the board is that working conditions are a concern to Wichita teachers. I’ll be surprised, however, if the union model of labor relations is able to provide a solution to this problem.


2 thoughts on “In Wichita, public school teacher working conditions are an issue”

  1. Teacher morale has been and will continue to be a huge problem in 259 and likely public schools all across the country. Indeed, Bob what is the union doing for teachers? Well, it advised them to vote against the first contract, which, ironically, was better than the one they just approved. (The union advised teachers to vote yes on the one they now have, as it was the judgment of union officials that each successive offer would only get worse.) Between contracts 1 and 2, I think the union must have gotten an inkling of what public opinion was regarding teacher demands in a recession. I’m sure paperwork loads for teachers are ridiculous, and I’m not talking about the homework they must grade; but with each intrusion by the feds–which unions and the public ed hierarchy support–paperwork will increase. Quality teachers leave the system when they’ve finally had their fill, as they are employable elsewhere (when there are jobs available). I could go on forever! The broken public ed. system is simply a microcosm of our broken gov’t.

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