How Long Will We Tolerate Teachers’ Unions Abusing Their Power?

 

Over the past two years, in particular, we have learned a great deal about teachers and their unions, and the picture is a grim and tragic one. Teachers only care about exerting power and controlling the education environment, and the students be damned. School superintendents, administrators can only meekly go along with the unions’ demands, and politicians aren’t willing to sacrifice the political and financial power that the unions wield over them. Everyone has something to gain.

Except our children.

Where are we now, and how did we get to this point?

During the coronavirus pandemic, teachers dictated rules that no one dared to counter: they made demands about when schools would be open, whether students could attend in-person, who needed to wear masks, the role that vaccinations would play, whether teachers would teach remotely or in-person (or a combination). Meanwhile, the damages inflicted on the children seemed irrelevant to the unions:

Some states, like Texas, opened their doors in the fall. However, schools in many other states such as Virginia, New York, Kentucky, Oregon, California have remained shuttered or at least partially so. Forcing children to learn virtually has adversely affected their emotional and mental well-being. The CDC found that suicide and depression rates among children have skyrocketed. After an unusual uptick in suicide rates this last week, the Clark County School District — the nation’s fifth-largest school district that pulls students from Las Vegas, among other cities in Nevada — decided to reopen schools for in-person learning as soon as it could. There’s another point to make here: Virtual learning doesn’t work very well. NPR recently reported that 4 of 10 teenagers don’t even log on for virtual learning! Children at risk for abuse and neglect are even more so with their school buffers gone.

And many states appeared helpless to take action and save our kids from these union mandates.

Now the teachers are demanding, in spite of rising resistance from parents, that Critical Race Theory be taught in the schools. At one time, school boards and superintendents decided the schools’ curriculum, but in many districts they either don’t know what is being taught in their schools, don’t care what is taught, support CRT in spite of its racist goals, or are cowed by the teachers’ unions. And the unions continue to mandate that CRT be taught:

One of the nation’s largest teachers’ unions vowed Tuesday to go to court to allow the teaching of critical race theory.

Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers, said in a speech that she considers teaching critical race theory to be teaching ‘the truth.’

‘Mark my words. Our union will defend any member who gets in trouble for teaching honest history. We have a legal defense fund ready to go. Teaching the truth is not radical or wrong. Distorting history and threatening educators for teaching the truth is what is truly radical and wrong,’ Ms. Weingarten said at the union’s virtual professional development conference.

The National Education Association agrees with this decision.

It has been over ten years since a country-wide effort was made to limit the power of the teachers’ unions through collective bargaining. It was a dismal failure, primarily because politicians are beholden to the unions. And they still are.

But my hope is that the power centers begin to shift. Citizens, particularly parents, need to tell their legislatures that they cannot, must not, cater to the teachers’ unions any longer. Voters need to tell those running for political positions that they must include changing the collective bargaining laws in their platforms, and must follow through when elected. They must be willing to sacrifice the perks they are given by the unions and transform the balance of power. They must refuse to acknowledge that teachers’ unions are special-interest groups worthy of recognition and compliance.

But the only way this can happen is for people to realize that the teachers’ unions have gone too far and must be stopped in this escalation of power. These unions are the source of the abuse of our educational institutions and the distortions of the history curriculum we are teaching our children. We are seeing parents protesting at the local and county levels; they are running for school boards and actively promoting their cause: the healthy and proper education of our children should be in the hands of citizens, not teachers and administrators.

It’s time to take back our education system, city by city, county by county, and state by state.

It’s time.

Published in Education
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 76 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    With a hat tip to @caroljoy and her post below, here is a short example of the arrogance wrought by the NEA.  This is drawn from materials in Loudoun County, Virginia.

    Teachers have a special role to teach academics (and to inculcate morals).  “The teacher  is the second mother.” Parents’ role is to socialize children (and respect teachers’ authority).

    The union is entrenched.  We can only hope, as with many things emanating from the left, that overplaying its hand will diminish its influence.

    • #1
  2. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Either the Teachers’ Union will be limited/reformed, or it will be forced by competition into withdrawal into obscurity.

    This is what has happened to every other guild and union in history that failed to adapt to the demands of the marketplace. 

    • #2
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn: It’s time.

    Past time. Nevertheless, it will be done.

    • #3
  4. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    The execrable NEA makes the claim they just want to teach “honest history,” but the fact is they don’t teach much of anything that could be called history, and this is not new.

    I have a family member who graduated from high school 20 years ago, from a so-called ‘award-winning’ school district. Never learned anything about the country’s history other than running off the Indians and the 60s’ civil rights movement. No idea what were or when any major events (wars, depressions, assassinations) had taken place, could not name the hostile powers in any world war, or even which was when. It was pathetic. Had to take on the task of reading and learning about the land of her birth.

    • #4
  5. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    You must bear in mind this quote attributed to the late Albert Shanker, former head of the UFT and the AFT:

    When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.

    The “Albert Shanker Institute” claims that it cannot find any speech or interview where Shanker said this. Yet the quote perfectly encapsulates how the union views its mission.

    (Edited to fix a typo.)

    • #5
  6. James Salerno Coolidge
    James Salerno
    @JamesSalerno

    The public education system is the biggest waste of resources in human history. More than welfare, more than war. It has wasted billions of hours of time. It has crushed generation after generation of intellectual capital and human potential. It has wasted trillions of dollars. It has economically crushed individuals before they are even at their starting point. It has awarded millions of useless parasites with other people’s money.

    If aliens arrived tomorrow, they would spend centuries studying how something like this could actually happen to a sentient species.

    • #6
  7. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Well Jan and I stopped tolerating it back in 1995. We started homeschooling our kids then. Never looked back,

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    iWe (View Comment):
    This is what has happened to every other guild and union in history that failed to adapt to the demands of the marketplace. 

    With school choice and charter schools already being opened, the public schools should be in deep trouble. They don’t deserve to be rescued by anyone.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Well Jan and I stopped tolerating it back in 1995. We started homeschooling our kids then. Never looked back,

    Good for you guys, @seawriter. It looks like more and more parents are being inspired to do the same, and they’re also forming pods to share the difficulty. One way or another, we need to put the unions and the teachers out of business.

    • #9
  10. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    I keep trying to figure out how we loosen their grip on power without doing something that is not typical of our way of doing things. So far I am unsuccessful. 

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Rodin (View Comment):

    I keep trying to figure out how we loosen their grip on power without doing something that is not typical of our way of doing things. So far I am unsuccessful.

    If it were obvious, we might have done it! The problem is that no one wants to take the flack and losses that will come with standing up to them, particularly the Democratic state legislatures. I think a number of the states have seen shifting majorities, and if we can just get enough Republicans who have the guts to stand up, and a handful of Democrats to demonstrate they care about kids, maybe something will happen. People are going to have to do some serious soul-searching to make it work.

    • #11
  12. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Good for you guys, @seawriter. It looks like more and more parents are being inspired forced to do the same, and they’re also forming pods to share the difficulty. One way or another, we need to put the unions and the teachers out of business.

    Fixed it for you. It wasn’t inspiration. It was that my second son, in 4th grade was functionally illiterate despite getting straight “A’s” reading, writing, and English, and my oldest was learning nothing. We could not allow this to continue. Or rather Janet, in full Mamma Bear mode was unwilling to allow this.

    We did not want to do this. We were both the products of an excellent 1960s public school system, who were willing to accept no less excellence for our children. Homeschooling them required a lot of sacrifices. But too her dying day Jan was glad we had done it, and I remain glad to this present day.

    • #12
  13. MWD B612 "Dawg" Member
    MWD B612 "Dawg"
    @danok1

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    iWe (View Comment):
    This is what has happened to every other guild and union in history that failed to adapt to the demands of the marketplace.

    With school choice and charter schools already being opened, the public schools should be in deep trouble. They don’t deserve to be rescued by anyone.

    I think that part of the problem is that most of our property taxes (at least here) go to the public schools, and the state funds the systems, not the students. If funding could move with the student, public schools would be forced to change in order to keep funds coming in.

    ETA: It would also drain the power of the unions, which is why the unions fight this.

    • #13
  14. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Well Jan and I stopped tolerating it back in 1995. We started homeschooling our kids then. Never looked back,

    Goodf or you guys, @ seawriter. It looks like more and more parents are being inspired to do the same, and they’re also forming pods to share the difficulty. One way or another, we need to put the unions and the teachers out of business.

    If the kids are going to be taught remotely, they are already home-schooled. Who needs some derp with an education degree to be involved? Eliminate the middleman.

    • #14
  15. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    The state Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington has mandated teacher training in CRT. 

    • #15
  16. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    The state Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington has mandated teacher training in CRT.

    Release the Kraken. 

    • #16
  17. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    States should outlaw public sector unions or regulate them to death.

    • #17
  18. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    If there is one good thing that has come out of the last year (at least, pertaining to public schools), it is that teachers will never be respected again.  And, they will never admit that they have only themselves to blame for it.

    • #18
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    If there is one good thing that has come out of the last year (at least, pertaining to public schools), it is that teachers will never be respected again. And, they will never admit that they have only themselves to blame for it.

    Correct. Blaming others for everything is baked into the cake. 

    • #19
  20. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    The state Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington has mandated teacher training in CRT.

    The other states should mandate deprogramming for any children inbound from Washington State.

    • #20
  21. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Rodin (View Comment):

    I keep trying to figure out how we loosen their grip on power without doing something that is not typical of our way of doing things. So far I am unsuccessful.

    I’ve always believed that we should put them back on their heels for their past failures.  Conservatives should keep making the proposition to both the AFT and NEA,  “When American students are in the top five in the world when it comes to Mathematics, Science and Reading, you can teach all the CRT you want to.  Until then CRT will never come into public school classrooms.”

    Up until now, I’ve always cut teachers some slack because of inept administration, lack of parental involvement, etc., however, the last year has convinced me that there is an overwhelming number of incompetents, slackers, and activists in the ranks that should be fired immediately.

    It’s fine that we continue the fight against CRT but throwing their past failures back in their faces doesn’t hurt either.

    • #21
  22. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    iWe (View Comment):

    Either the Teachers’ Union will be limited/reformed, or it will be forced by competition into withdrawal into obscurity.

    This is what has happened to every other guild and union in history that failed to adapt to the demands of the marketplace.

    However the Teachers’ Union has a most symbiotic relationship with the Democratic Party. Each depends on the other one’s survival in order to survive.

    Traditionally, union dues offer huge amounts of money for Union leaders to “donate” to Dem candidates.

    Cleaning up the election system is a priority since without that cleanup, Dem candidates will always win.

    • #22
  23. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Public employees are not permitted to strike, yet teachers often do, and there are never any consequences.  Perhaps when they try that again, a group of parents could file a class-action lawsuit against them, and force the courts to slap the teachers down.  We have to do something drastic to break their concentration.  I have always wondered why parents didn’t file lawsuits when the teachers closed the schools over Covid, when the “science” tells us that schools are not sources for the spread of the virus.

    • #23
  24. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Take a page from Reagan:  Teachers, you either quit your union, or lose your job.

    • #24
  25. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Nothing will change. Conservatives don’t organize for power. They make podcasts.

    • #25
  26. James Salerno Coolidge
    James Salerno
    @JamesSalerno

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Up until now, I’ve always cut teachers some slack because of inept administration, lack of parental involvement, etc., however, the last year has convinced me that there is an overwhelming number of incompetents, slackers, and activists in the ranks that should be fired immediately.

    This. A good litmus test would be checking the teacher’s work history. Most of the time, you’re not going to find typical teenager jobs like bagging groceries or making pizza. You probably won’t find any work history at all. It’s a job that almost exclusively attracts spoiled suburbanites. Those without real world experience are charged with preparing children for the real world. How does this make sense?

    • #26
  27. DrewInWisconsin, Oaf Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oaf
    @DrewInWisconsin

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Public employees are not permitted to strike, yet teachers often do, and there are never any consequences.

    “Government employees find that government employees did nothing wrong.”

    • #27
  28. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill
    @CarolJoy

    Fritz (View Comment):

    The execrable NEA makes the claim they just want to teach “honest history,” but the fact is they don’t teach much of anything that could be called history, and this is not new.

    I have a family member who graduated from high school 20 years ago, from a so-called ‘award-winning’ school district. Never learned anything about the country’s history other than running off the Indians and the 60s’ civil rights movement. No idea what were or when any major events (wars, depressions, assassinations) had taken place, could not name the hostile powers in any world war, or even which was when. It was pathetic. Had to take on the task of reading and learning about the land of her birth.

    I’m forgetting the name of the social media guy who went out on this past July 4th to ask the beach goers two things:

    1 What was the alternate name for the holiday?

    2 Who was it the US colonies sought to be independent from?

    3 Extra credit: name the year the Declaration of Independence was signed.

    Only one young person knew the Fourth is called Independence Day. She was an affluent in appearance white woman, well spoken. But of the ten people queried, even she didn’t know the answer to the other question was Great Britain.

    And most guesses about the date involved the Nineteenth Century.

    • #28
  29. W Bob Member
    W Bob
    @WBob

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    Public employees are not permitted to strike, yet teachers often do, and there are never any consequences. Perhaps when they try that again, a group of parents could file a class-action lawsuit against them, and force the courts to slap the teachers down. We have to do something drastic to break their concentration. I have always wondered why parents didn’t file lawsuits when the teachers closed the schools over Covid, when the “science” tells us that schools are not sources for the spread of the virus.

    I’ve never understood how teachers unions are tolerated. A union exists to maximize benefits of its members at the expense of their employer. In the case of teachers unions, the employer—the ones for whom the union members perform their services—is effectively the students themselves. So it’s an organization whose very purpose is, by definition, to minimize the benefits that children receive in schools. 

    • #29
  30. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Having been a teacher for more that 40 years, I have a degree of discomfort when I read you statements on what teachers want. There is a big difference between “teachers” and “the teacher union”, be that the NEA or the AFT. When I came out to Seattle I resisted joining the NEA and its local branches, the SEA and WEA. In 1972, I think it was, Seattle Teachers Association negotiated a closed shop which mandated that all teachers must join or pay dues to the negotiating agent. Those of us who had not joined before that agreement were grandfathered out, so until I left the district in 1983 I was not required to join, and I didn’t. I left the district for 5 years. When I returned and was rehired I no longer had that status and had either to join or simply pay dues without any member benefits.

    When I started teaching in New York in 1967 I reluctantly joined the UFT which was the local chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. My first year I crossed the picket line every day during a two week strike to run two classrooms made up of 150 5th grade students with the aid of some of their parents. I had entered a contract the previous summer during which the district paid for me to attend graduate classes at New York University which qualified me for a teaching license in New York. I felt honor-bound to teach that first year, no matter what the union chose to do. My colleagues on the picketline understood my choice and did not hold it against me.

    The major difference between the UFT (AFT) and the SEA (NEA) was that when the UFT negotiated a contract all of its provisions were voted on individually by the membership. At least in those days we had the right to have a say in what went into our final contract. On the other hand, SEA presented the contract as a completed deal to be voted up or down as a unit. That is how they got the closed shop provision. In the years I taught in Seattle I never saw any opportunity to enter input into the provisions of our contract negotiations. The early forms of CRT were negotiated into the contract by activists who were the meat and potatoes of the SEA leadership. They operated on their own agenda. There were sufficient sheep in the membership that they could pretty much do what they wanted to do.

    Individual teachers had little or no voice. Most just wanted to do their job. They weren’t political. Those of us whose views were to the right learned pretty quickly that we had little or no ability to shape anything. I would say that the vast majority of teachers are pretty ignorant of politics. The sea in which they swam was dominated by leftist currents, and very few swam against the tide.

    • #30