Rebuilding DC Teachers' Trust Through Transparency
Statements or expressions of opinions herein 'do not' represent the views or official positions of DCPS, AFT, Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) or its members. Views are my own.
Disclaimer: I am not a member of the WTU Contract Negotiations team.
One of the main problems we as a union have endured over the past nine years with past and current Washington Teachers' Union (WTU) presidents'- is that our leaders’ have not effectively made the switch from "classroom teachers" to union leaders.
Without "vision" or a "strategic plan" beyond their own advancement, they all seemed unable to act in the collective best interest of teachers', once they got elected. It is going to require strategic and substantive short and long-term plans, including the "collective wisdom of members", to "rebuild and re-purpose," if the WTU is to survive.
Effective union leaders must first communicate a clear vision and a strategy to the "rank and file" from the outset. Without a plan, we are like pilots flying by the seats of our pants. Certainly a lack of direction and focus can’t help get teachers’ a union contract; improve teachers’ working conditions, students’ learning outcomes, or the state of public education in general. A plan for rebuilding the union has first to be communicated with sufficient input and buy-in from members.
One of the insights I have gleaned as an active and involved union member – is that our leaders sometimes are their own worst enemy. For starters, collaboration, direct communication and transparency with one’s own management team, members of the Executive Board and rank and file are crucial if a union president is going to achieve any measure of success.
I have learned that if you do not have a "bond of trust" with union members who can help you succeed, then any plans you may have will come to a screeching halt, without a base of support.
Of course, if we are going to rebuild, we must first recognize, understand and accept that the membership is the highest authority in the union. However, if the "rank and file" membership remains passive and apathetic, the union will remain dormant. Of course, it's understandable why our members haven't been fully engaged for some time now. The union hasn't done the hard work needed to get members to want to be involved. The most The Washington Teacher: Rebuilding DC Teachers' Trust Through Transparency: