The Teachers' Scrounge

News and comments from the world of public education. A middle school math teacher shared what he learned today.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Texas Classroom Teachers Association

I've spent the last couple of days at a leadership conference for Texas Classroom Teachers Association. It was a lot of fun, and I learned quite a bit.

TCTA always points out that they are the only Texas teacher group that is exclusively for teachers... members are not administrators, board of trustees, bus drivers, etc. I never really understood why that was a big deal before, so let me try to summarize the problem. The vast majority of teacher "issues" relate to supervisors. If you and your principal are members of the same organization, they can't represent either one of you in any legal proceedings. If your organization represents teachers, adminstrators, and staff, who does it fight for in the legislature? When principals ask teachers to give up conference periods and duty-free lunches on TAKS testing days, who does your professional organization back in that fight?

Some other advantages of TCTA:
  • Highest Lawyer-to-Member ratio of any Texas teacher group. TCTA employs nine full-time (very experienced) attorneys. When you call TCTA with a problem, you speak directly to an attorney. You aren't routed to a staff member or paralegal who decides if you get to talk to a lawyer. That means when you call TCTA, your discussion is protected under attorney-client priveledge. If you talk to another organization's paralegal, you have no such protection.
  • Highest liability coverage. TCTA provides members with $7 million in professional liability insurance, $2 million in civil rights coverage, and a long list of other coverage. In the event that you are involved in an issue with another TCTA member, TCTA has a Teacher Defense Fund it can tap so that each member can get legal representation without a conflict of interest.
  • Information. TCTA updates members on important issues affecting educators. From sex offenders in your classroom to the legality of "trade-and-grade," TCTA lets you know what's going on.
  • Member discounts. hotels, car rentals, cell phone, etc.
  • A voice in Austin. TCTA's politcal action committee, ACT, actively works for teachers. They write legislation and work with members of congress to get it sponsored and passed. It has been TEN YEARS since any other Texas teacher organization has passed legislation. Something that I appreciate -- TCTA does NOT endorse candidates. They will inform you about the issues hitting the legislature in the next term, but they don't tell you who to vote for. (And that means they are never locked out of the halls of power because they backed the losing candidate.)
  • Involvement. As a teacher, I want to improve the world of education and be involved. TCTA does that. You get the support of the local chapter, the state organization, and they're the most reasonably priced!

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