I've been thinking.
So many lawsuits by teacher, so many lawyers hired by teachers, so little changing. Why is that?
With all the lawsuits, all the settlements, the court rulings, the discussions amongst the attorneys one would figure that a needle will move in favor of teachers, no?
While it is well and good that teachers that have been wronged continue to pursue outside legal action, individually we can't move the needle. To move the needle we must fight as a collective.
Just an aside but relevant, there was an interesting article in the Washington Post this week how former and current minor league baseball players are bringing a class action suit against MLB to raise their pay. Did you know that most minor leaguers make about $1k a month? I don't know how I feel about that. I would give my left arm to play pro ball. But hold that thought for a moment. Because this will be relevant.
What do we as teachers do and/or need?
First, as every class action lawsuit has there must be a lead plaintiff. But the lead plaintiff must not be someone who is narcissistic, selfish, or has put themselves in a spot where that person his continuously defecated on by life. No, that person must be above reproach. Must be a pillar in the their community, both at home and in their school, and with an unblemished personal file. This person will be our Rosa Parks.
Think about it. Rosa Parks just didn't fall into being the face of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She was chosen by the local NAACP because she was married, employed, and a pillar of her community. As teachers there must be someone to be our Rosa Parks. Our face. But what should be the cause of action?
There are so many. ATR's. Not how we are treated, but rather there should be a case for age discrimination (which I am sure somewhere in the bowels in the Tweed basement are files among files of thisThe NYCDOE version of the Pentagon Papers which I have written about in the past).
There is also the whack a mole evaluation system or many other wrongs committed. One that gets me is under new 3020-a guidelines the teacher must prove themselves innocent instead of being proven guilty. This in my opinion should be the test case. There is case law about the presumption of innocence.
But how can a low paid teacher afford such high priced attorneys that would be needed for such a case?
This is where our union, the United Federation of Teachers as well as NYSUT come in. It is time for both organizations to show some guts and to grab the bull by the proverbial testes and go out and find that teacher who can be a lead plaintiff, a face against all the crap we have taken for the last 10-15 years. Only the UFT and NYSUT have the financial wherewithal and resources to undertake such an endeavor.
Unions have done such actions all the time. They have gone to the courts for what they can't get in collective bargaining. Look at the story about the minor league baseball players? Who comes to mind? Curt Flood, Andy Messersmith, and Dave McNally. All three battled to eliminate the reserve clause. Curt Flood's case went all the way to the Supreme Court. But all three had the union behind them.
As much as I love baseball, teachers are damn more important than baseball players ever will be. Don't we deserve to be treated just as good as they are?