July 19, 2013

The Post editorial board considers “troubling” the idea that Elizabeth Davis, the new Washington Teachers Union president, believes teachers at D.C. charter schools should unionize [“A vote against teamwork,” July 17]. Unionization would help address many of the difficulties facing today’s educators. A union should not keep an incompetent or undependable teacher from being fired.

Consider one charter school in Northwest Washington, where teachers were relegated to a three-hour staff-development meeting that included making up songs about the alphabet. A director of a school for severely learning-disabled D.C. young males kept teachers sitting for two hours in the cafeteria for staff-development meetings while he held meetings elsewhere in the building. This school was subsequently closed. Lastly, a brief return to a beloved workplace of mine in Ward 7 last year subjected me to a staff-development meeting that included a half-hour sales pitch for pots and pans. The likelihood of any of these things happening in a union shop is practically nil.

Reasonable unionization can protect an administration from itself and save taxpayers money while preserving the spirit of the teachers in the trenches. Bad teachers should be fired, and no one would be more pleased to see them go than competent teachers, who have to work doubly hard to make up for their inadequate colleagues.

Joe Palka, Gaithersburg