E4E-LA Teacher Phil Gerlach: "The Rational Middle" Gives Me Hope
Phil Gerlach has been a teacher for 14 years and currently teaches English at Markham Middle School.
As a classroom teacher for over a decade, I have seen the dissonance between the district and the union and can feel the effect this has on our classrooms and education system. Like many people who came to "The Rational Middle: Pro-Union, Pro-Reform," I came because there are important and complex issues in education and I wanted to hear more about how we can raise our voices together. I was most impressed by was the mix of people participating in this discussion - district leaders, administrators, community leaders, and of course, many public and charter school teachers. Everybody was there for same reason: we believe strongly in the power of education as a tool to change lives.
Throughout the discussion, I heard hopeful proposals and ideas for solutions to the problems that prevent our union and district from reaching consensus. It was solutions-oriented. It was good to see that people from the union are willing to talk about problems in our schools. Green Dot was an example of how unions and administrators can work together on policies that are good for students and the teaching profession. Seeing this provides me with hope for union-district collaboration.
We didn’t solve any major problems, but people were engaged in the conversation, offering their input on how to come to a rational middle around these difficult issues. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them went back to their schools to encourage others to become part of the conversation, as well. These issues are complex and there is no easy answer. We may have just scratched the surface in this conversation, but coming together for dialogue is the first step in tackling these challenges.