I spoke up about a payroll error that I believe cost me a few hundred dollars this year, and no one responded. I could push further to understand this error more, and try to regain those dollars, but the grief it will cause me will be great. In general, no one cares about this problem, a problem that has since since been remedied w/o compensation, and there are bigger problems to solve in that arena. What's an individual to do when ignored?
In a similar situation, I spoke up, but then gained the wrath of those working to remedy situations in that arena--individuals overwhelmed with the number of big problems to solve, and the lack of good effort to make sure those problems don't happen in the first place.
I imagine I am not alone in my situation, as it's likely that organizational errors plague many in systems all over the world. Even though there are many laws and regulations to make sure that work places are run fairly, I'm sure that there are lots of errors, confusion, and errant efforts everywhere.
It is frustrating to lose dollars due to error or unfair practices. It is similarly frustrating to have your inquiries ignored and unsupported. Yet if you speak up too often, you are treated poorly in any group. This is why it is essential for educators to have unions--unions, at their best, are able to help out with problems like this, but often unions are heavily taxed with regard to time, especially if there are lots of problems to solve.
What can individuals do when faced with systematic issues and problems?
First, stay on top of matters--check your paycheck each week to make sure it is accurate. The only reason I knew about my problem in the first place was because a colleague was checking her paycheck and noticed the error. I had not noticed the error because I haven't been checking my paycheck each week. All workers have to take responsibility when it comes to making sure errors are not made with their compensation.
Next, keep notes. In another situation where errors are great, it feels like there may be a situation of gaslighting. This is an arena where we can never seem to do it right--no matter what we do, there is error, and no matter how many times we ask for help and support, we are ignored. It is a suspect situation. I don't know why it continues. So I just keep a record of every event that happens in hopes that at some point there will be clarity here. This happened in another arena during my career, and eventually the situation was resolved. It was helpful to have the notes in order to connect the dots and understand the situation for what it was.
Advocate for clear, streamlined, honest systems of work and support. When systems are too complex, they become problematic. Recently a troubling situation experienced by a colleague was similar to an issue that happened to me earlier in my career. Clearly, the issue is due to a system effort that is messy and lacking clear think and understanding. That system needs a review so that educators in the future don't have to experience similar troubling circumstances.
To teach well depends on fair working conditions and positive supports. Educational systems are complex, often underfunded, and imperfect--there's always more work to do to help systems run with good effort and efficacy.
If you are ignored when faced with troubling circumstances, you have to decide if it's worth it to advocate more. Sometimes it's worth it to fight for a few hundred dollars and sometimes it's not. While you're deciding, it's best to do the good work possible and keep accurate notes about the situation. We have to work together to right the organizations we work in so that we can all do the best work possible in fair and positive ways. Onward.