Huff: teachers unions protect bad teachers
Pinellas school board candidate Fonda Huff slammed teachers unions at a candidate's forum Wednesday night, saying they protect bad teachers and hold back progress.
Huff, a 17-year teacher who's now a math/science coach, told about 20 members of the St. Petersburg Republican Club that when she moved to Florida from Texas, teachers here told her not to join the union.
"They really don't do anything for the teachers," Huff said the other teachers told her. "The only teacher that I know who joined it that I worked with, she was fixing to get fired because she never was at school. She joined the union. So she's not fired to this day."
"The school board has some really good ideas, and they want to implement it, but they can't," Huff continued. "They have to wait until the union, to see if it's okay with them first. To me, it holds back progress."
Terry Krassner, Huff's opponent in the at-large District 2 race, defended unions and said bad teachers persist because administrators aren't doing their jobs. Krassner, a former teacher and principal, has been endorsed by the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association.
The PCTA is "the only recognized body that teachers can belong to, that they can share philosophies, curriculum, their thought process regarding what makes a successful school. That is the only recognized body that administration listens to," Krassner said. "I know that they have our children's best interests at heart."
Krassner suggested that removing bad teachers is not as time-consuming as some say. She said it took six months to remove a 28-year teacher who worked for her and was not effective.
"There is a process," she said. "It's just making sure that principals and administrators have the backbone to do what they know is right."
In response to a second question on the subject, Huff said union participation drags out the process.
"There is a process, like Terry just explained, but when it comes down to it, whether it's a teacher or whether it's an administrator or whoever it is, it takes time and it takes years just to go through that process. Because the union will step in," Huff said. "It's nearly impossible to get rid of somebody who's ineffective, basically. I know it's a dream world. And on paper, it looks good with all these processes. But it takes forever. Usually, the person, if they just get tired of dealing with it, they'll end up quitting before they ever get released."
Krassner shook her head and smiled.