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Thursday, October 2, 2008

In a certain Public School District, the school psychologist pay chart is listed immediately after the teacher pay chart, in the teacher’s union contract booklet. Are school psychologists teachers? Don’t the extent of school psychologists’ educational preparation and the vastness of the professional responsibility, in contrast to that of a classroom teacher, warrant a specialized union with a specialized contract? Do school systems not value school psychologists?

If the school psychology pay chart is listed in the teacher contract booklet, then school psychologists are governed by that contract, as if they are teachers. But who bargains for the rights of the school psychologist’s specific needs? What happens when the rights of the school psychologist are infringed upon, or a legal matter arises? Working with students in a law-suit-crazed society is a frightening scenario! Who has the expertise to represent the school psychologist?

The main benefit of labor unions: members contribute to the decisions that govern their daily practice. The downside: controversy. Unions have been blamed for protecting poor workers, and accused of limiting innovation and entrepreneurship.

Should school psychologists have their own unions – national and local – as teachers do? Or should they remain as they are - considered teachers?

This blog was created by Judy Lamanna


vincent said...

Dealing with inappropriate behavior, counseling, and being able to make academic recommendations are skills that make school psychologists teachers in a way. In addition to being a teacher of students in a more non-traditional way, school psychologists are also teachers of teachers in scenarios that require consultation. Because school psychologists teach to a more diverse population, have a larger knowledge base, and require a more intense educational background in order to be certified, I think that they should be compensated financially for their time and efforts. I don't know if there has to be a separate union, but at the very least there should be advocates within the teachers' union that should be familiar with the job and the laws so that they could make better judgments should legal situations arise. I also think that local unions would be more beneficial because curriculums and district policies could vary so greatly that it would be better to have the union cater to more specific needs.

Rosa said...

I have been going through the training in my new school and district, and I finally realized how little school psychologists are compensated for the work they are required to do and the amount of education that they are required to have! In my district, the child study team is payed equally on a separate pay scale. The LDTC is responsible for achievement tests that school psychologists basically are qualified to administer. I believe their program is 38 credits. The CST social worker I believe can have anywhere from 40-60 credits, mostly case manages, and complete the social assessment. The psychologist has 60-72 credits, a year internship, administers a battery of tests, observations, interviews, counsels, and is looked at to provide the answers most of the time. The funny thing is, the team looks to us like we are all knowing! Yet, they are paid the same and aren't required to do as much or be responsible for as much. Something is completely wrong with this picture!

mike c said...

On one side, there may be benefits to being a part of one of the strongest unions there are. But the uniqueness of the job of a school psychologist can not be argued, specifically when compared with classroom teachers.
You mention that unions have been accused of limiting innovation, but I think that one of the main reasons that tenure has been instilled, at least at the university level, is to protect individuals academic interests, ideas, and opinions.
In reality, the only people who have the expertise to represent the school psychologist would have to be school psychologists themselves.
I'm not completely familiar with salary guides and who fits where but are LDTC's and social workers in the same predicament as school psychologists in this case?

Anonymous said...

I agree Rosa...but what to do? It seems that this is yet another systematic change that we, the
21st century Psychologist must undertake.

It seems that the question now seems...how can we successfully complete our job if we are concerned with SO MANY systematic changes such as RTI, unions, and cyber bullying?

I am all for change...but when do we have time to hone their own skills?

Katie said...

This topic is so controversial because I agree with Mike that if we have to be apart o an existing union I am glad that we are a part of the teachers union because of its strength. But on the otherhand the idea of being looked at on the same scale as the other members of the child study team when we do twice the amount of work is unbelieveable.

Is the only way to make a change to have school psychologists nationwide come together with a proposal of a union of our own, stipulating our specific needs and having states vote on it?