Teachers Unions

Teachers Unions Use Political Clout To Keep Classrooms Closed

The public school system is a travesty that does not—and cannot—put students first.

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As it turns out, the late teachers' union president, Al Shanker, probably didn't utter the revealing quotation often attributed to him: "When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of schoolchildren." Nevertheless, it's doubtful the likely misquotation will vanish completely because it captures the essence of union-controlled public-school systems.

We know it's true. Students are not the priority but serve as a prop by which district officials and teachers' unions arm-twist taxpayers for money. Nothing has illuminated this better than the unions' foot-dragging response to school closings. They absolutely, positively want schools to reopen—but only after officials agree to a laundry list of demands that have little to do with "the children."

Now that public schools finally are moving toward a return to classroom learning, teachers' unions are getting more demanding. As The Sacramento Bee reported, "school employees are seeking extra pay, safety measures, and child care assistance to offset the challenges imposed by the coronavirus pandemic." The "extra challenges" are the ones faced by school employees, not the schools' supposed customers.

I've been reading teachers' union statements and it's hard to see where the disputed Shanker quotation got anything wrong. "As millions of working families…have been forced to leave home for work and scramble to find childcare throughout the pandemic, it's become more clear than ever that we as a society must do more to provide affordable childcare options for families with children too young for school," said a United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) statement.

Some Los Angeles teachers have started a petition calling for teachers with young children to continue working remotely and for subsidized childcare by the fall, according to a recent Politico report. I re-read the California Teachers' Association's lengthy position on reopenings from earlier this year. Peel away the blather and it all comes down to this simple statement: "CTA believes all schools will need additional funding."

CTA argued that California needs a "thoughtful, long-term view of how dollars are allocated to schools for reopening because this is not a two- or three-month endeavor." Charter schools and private schools—including the one that Gov. Gavin Newsom's children attend—have worked tirelessly to get students and teachers back to school, but CTA didn't see that happening until the state chipped in more dollars for various benefits and safeguards.

These not only include "proper ventilation and testing," but "additional funding for social and emotional support for students and staff, technical assistance and broadband support for students, and supplemental support for students with special needs and English Language Learners." The statement said that the reopening plan must be mindful of "equity concerns" and the impact of reopened schools on poor and minority families.

I'd be more sympathetic to these demands if the public schools did an even tolerable job of providing distance learning, but many news stories detailed the plodding and incompetent way that traditional public schools—as opposed to private ones and public charters—transitioned to Zoom-based teaching.

The public funds government monopolies regardless of how well they perform (and generally provides even more money when they fail), so public schools had few incentives to master pandemic challenges. After the shift to distance learning, students had far more failing grades and school districts essentially blamed the students.

At least the public-school establishmentarians should stop prattling about the need to slow down reopenings because of concerns about the poor. "Pandemic-related school closures are deepening educational inequality in the United States by severely impairing the academic progress of children from low-income neighborhoods," according to a Yale News report on a study from a Yale University economist. Myriad reports have documented the disparate impacts of distance learning on poor kids.

A new poll shows that the governor enjoys high approval ratings for his handling of the school situation, yet he essentially gave the teachers' union the veto power over reopening plans by requiring that school districts come to an agreement with local collective-bargaining units. That gave districts with powerful unions—typically urban districts with a poor student population—outsized influence, as one Bee columnist explained.

Thanks to that union-friendly decision, California public schools still are a long way from fully reopening. A new Los Angeles Times district-by-district analysis found that only 52 percent of the state's elementary school students and 37 percent of secondary school students have returned to the classroom. But don't worry—teachers and other school employees still are being paid and accruing pensions, and soon might get free childcare.

The public school system is a travesty that does not—and cannot—put students first. The only answer is competition, so that parents and students can take their business elsewhere. Yet Newsom signed a package of union-backed legislation that makes it harder for charter schools to start up and expand. Why? When schoolchildren make campaign contributions, you'll have your answer.

This column was first published in The Orange County Register.

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  1. “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.”

    Uh….he did utter it. And exposed for all time the crassness and venality of teachers unions.

    1. My dad was not a member of any teachers union, yet for forty five years who was compelled to pay union dues for the privilege of being a teacher in a public school. He died before that supreme court ruling that did away with that, but I’m sure he smiled down on the justices that day.

      In his life I can recall my dad ever calling someone a fucker. Once was to a punk he found shitting in the drinking fountain. The other was in reference to the union lawyer.

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  2. Same people who won’t go back to the classroom insist the rest of us work our essential jobs in healthcare, construction, energy, mining, manufacturing, agriculture…you get the drift.

    Also the same people who want government single payer healthcare, government childcare, paid time off for any reason, universal basic incomes, etc, without knowing how to pay for it or even if it’s a good idea to let one entity control everything.

    Stop voting for democrats.

  3. “it’s become more clear than ever that we as a society must do more to provide affordable childcare options for families with children too young for school”

    “It’s become more clear than ever that we as a society must put birth control drugs in the food and water supplies, with the antidote available only with State approval and licensing.”

    1. We are already declining in population; cue OBL for the fix.

  4. Public employee unions are an inherent conflict of interest. They get to vote for who represents the employer in the negotiations. This is the result.

    1. Even FDR understood that.

  5. No employee of the state should be eligible to vote.

    1. Nor any of their friends or family members.

  6. “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.”

    I believe this is RULE #1 for all bureaucrats when it comes to the people they “represent” vs. donors/lobbyists.

  7. Why are teachers more special than grocery store workers, who got up and went to work every day, where they had contact with hundreds of people a day- without masks for the first few months?

    This is on of the things that boggles my mind on a daily basis. Grocery employees have worked every day since day one, even before there were any mask mandates or social distancing mandates. They worked without and kind of PPE for months. They had contact with thousands of people over the past year, and there have not been mass deaths among grocery employees. If anyone should have been the canary in the coal mine, it’s grocery workers.

    1. But teachers had to spend 5 or 6 years getting a college degree, the whole time suffering from the knowledge that they were the dumbest kids on campus (not counting the sport science majors, or whatever the pro athletes got a degree in).

      1. In my day (when we rode dinosaurs to college, uphill in the snow both ways) you got a regular four year bachelors degree. Then and only then did you take a fifth year of education classes. Today one majors in education. It’s rather silly. It’s make the degree even more worthless than that sports science degree, or the communications and television degree.

        Now on one hand, a few classes on how to teach aren’t good enough. In my day we got a shitload of dumb ass teachers who may have been educated but didn’t have a clue on how to actually teach. Which is why teachers also had the equivalent of a year of internship teaching. Except today that’s an almost automatic pass.

        The solution, sort of, is private colleges who actually teach you how to teach. Now if only the states would hire those candidates exclusively. In my home area one such private Christian college was known for its excellent teaching degrees, and its students were highly sought after by even the government schools. Many state college students transferred there for their fifth year.

        1. I had nuns through elementary school and a couple in high school. They were fantastic teachers.
          I don’t know what the solution to teacher credentialing is. Obviously, education degrees are silly and don’t necessarily make you a good teacher. You should have mastery of your subject matter first, and then take teaching classes.
          It reminds me a little of my mom, who’s a nurse. She got her RN from a nursing college, which, in its day, was renowned on the region for turning out outstanding nurses. It was a two year program, then you went to work. This was back when nurses wore white uniforms and little caps. Now, you need a BSN, but the quality of nurses isn’t any better.

  8. “A new poll shows that the governor enjoys high approval ratings for his handling of the school situation, yet he essentially gave the teachers’ union the veto power over reopening plans by requiring that school districts come to an agreement with local collective-bargaining units. “

    Well, when the MSM fails to report any of his mistakes and only covers his successes, with a dose of spin…

    1. “It takes a majority vote to remove the governor. Right now, 43% disapprove of Gavin Newsom. For perspective, seven in ten likely voters disapproved of Gray Davis (72% February 2003; 75% June 2003; 72% July 2003; 72% August 2003; 71% September 2003) before 55% voted to remove him in October 2003.

      Today, partisans are deeply divided in their approval of Governor Newsom. Among likely voters, seven in 10 Democrats (75%) and almost half of independents (45%) approve, compared to less than two in 10 Republicans (15%). Partisans’ views of the governor have stayed within a narrow range over two years—reflecting the hyperpartisanship, or lack of movement in opinions”

      The odds are clearly in his favor; guess they deserve the fucker they will decide to keep.

      https://www.ppic.org/blog/tag/approval-ratings/

  9. Even before the pandemic, I hated teachers unions with the white hot passion of a thousand suns. Now….

  10. Scabs. Fire them all and hire scabs.

    My father was a teacher for 45 years. My mother was a teacher. My grandmother was a teacher. I was even a teacher myself for two years. So let me be perfectly clear: Fire them all and hire scabs.

  11. My union friends admire the way the Chicago public schools union operates. They say, “They are doing their job, they are looking out for their people”.
    When you ask them who is looking out for the taxpayers (them)and the students (their kids), they have no answer. They send their kids to private school anyways. They know that the $19,000 they are on the hook for to support CPS is wasted, they just choose to ignore it and count the days until they can take their pension and leave the city. We were comparing property taxes the other day, they pay 5 times what I pay, but the public schools in my area are really great.
    The unions are indeed a cult. How else can you explain the grip they have on these people?

    1. “The unions are indeed a cult.”

      In southern Michigan, I’d put unionism on a par with God, Country, and Motherhood, not necessarily in that order.

      Families pass down stories about how gramps worked at the River Rouge plant and got shot at, and how another relative was let go and immediately replaced with some young guy for less pay, etc. The companies often treated them like crap, and the unions were the rescue. They revere their unions, and always will. And will always vote Democrat. Period.

    2. The teachers DO have an answer for the tax payers; sadly, it’s FUCK YOU.

  12. If the teachers refuse to return to the classroom, their paychecks should reflect their productivity. Problem solved.

  13. Teachers Unions Use Political Clout To Keep Classrooms Closed

    Look, I hate teacher’s unions… probably more than anyone, but that’s what teacher’s unions do. They use political clout to get what they want.

    1. And they say the NRA has politicians in a money clip…

      1. Which is a pretty silly thing to say. The NRA has political influence because lots of people vote on gun issues. And the people who think the NRA is evil do want to take our guns away.

        1. True, true, and true. All about the narrative and how they want to spin it. The NRA has been mostly AWOL for the past year because of it’s own, self generated problems [Wayne LaP and his compliant 42 member board of cronies]; when they can no longer serve as the bogeyman it will have to be someone else. Most likely people like you and me.

  14. This is on of the things that boggles my mind on a daily basis. Grocery employees have worked every day since day one, even before there were any mask mandates or social distancing mandates. They worked without and kind of PPE for months. They
    https:/wapexclusive.com ,had contact with thousands of people over the past year, and there have not been mass deaths among grocery employees. If anyone should have been the canary in the coal mine, it’s grocery workers.

  15. Please, no more whining. Homeschooling has been allowed for over 25 years. The parents have had plenty of time to do right by their children.

    1. Most parents have to work. Either both parents or a single parent to survive. Today’s parents also had pretty shoddy educations themselves and are ill equipped to teach their children much past the third or fourth grade. Then there are the parents that just don’t give a damn, and ask any good teacher and they will tell you the schools are full of kids with parents like that, especially inner city schools. We had good schools in this country, then the states took over and education declined. Then to fix the decline the Federal government took over, threw money at the schools and schools declined even more. The real answer is return the power to local school boards, get the state and fed out of education. The one exception would be vouchers for private schooling.

  16. Perhaps it is time to reconsider how the school districts are organized. Possibly abolishing the current structure in favor a new one where the school boards are completely new and not obligated to deal with the unions because the contracts were entered into by the previous structure.

    A difficult concept at first, but not really. Perhaps the schools districts could be declared bankrupt (many of them are certainly morally so) or the politicians could change the rules so the current structure is no longer valid and supported by taxes.

    Or the people could directly vote to remove the school board structure, where such direct action is available.

    I am sure there are other options, but we must search them out and avail ourselves of them. Enough is enough.

  17. If you’re kids are in a government run school, you are guilty of abuse.

  18. Yes, it is only as an unintended consequence; but for the first time teachers unions are, by keeping government school classrooms closed, doing something to the benefit students. With a second unintended consequence, the diminishing of the opinion of many of government schools and government employee unions, they are benefiting the nation at large; again, for the first time.

  19. “Put students first.”

    Libertarians demanding that humans sacrifice their life and health to public service.

    Lay off the FOX crack. It has you all confused.

    1. Yeah, you’d have to watch fox to think the teachers are shit.

      1. They are shit.

  20. End compulsory funding of government schools and we will soon discover just how popular they really are.

  21. Take a year, dissolve the school districts, fire all the teachers, reopen with no union teachers, public sector unions should be abolished, even FDR was against them.

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