During my career of 35 years of teaching, of which 32 were in Billings School District 2, I can honestly say I taught with the best. Billings teachers are dedicated, hardworking and caring individuals. I can also say I'm thankful for our Billings Education Association for its diligence in looking out for our rights and fair working conditions. Did I agree with everything the association did? No, but I personally know the alternatives faced by teachers who have no safeguards set in place by the so-called "devil unions." Collective bargaining is about more than money.
Educators are required to renew their teaching license every five years through administration-approved continuing-education courses that are typically completed at the individual educator's expense. Teachers are lifelong learners and attend many classes and workshops to improve and develop professional expertise throughout their careers. It is intriguing that teaching is one of the only professions that is criticized and sometimes penalized for professional development and self-improvement. It is also interesting that teachers are expected to be professional, exceptional educators for the children without regards to working conditions or pay.
My hope is that the public, school boards and legislators recognize the qualified and caring people who dedicate their lives to the teaching profession in Montana. Teachers carry a tremendous responsibility, and so does the public in supporting these professionals who hold the future in their hands.
Elizabeth L. McGill