Teachers unions are simply doing what unions do: protect the interests of the union members.  Teachers Unions then are interested in protecting and promoting the interests of the teachers at the expense of other parties, including the children the teachers are supposed to be educating.  Voters, parents, and political leaders should see the unions for what they are instead of falling for their fake solicitude for children.  Here are several education reforms teachers unions oppose.

Merit pay.  Unions want collective bargaining agreements with set pay schedules and grievance processes providing job security and predictability to the union members.  Merit pay would disrupt and undermine one of the major benefits to union membership.  In the private sector merit pay often inspires greater performance and encourages better efforts.  There are some problems with the metrics of such a system but even so the unions have uniformly undermined and fought againt merit pay reforms.

Charter Schools.  Charter schools do not start out unionized and are set up to have more of a free hand in educating the children with the expectation of additional accountability to their sponsers as pre-defined in their charter.  When a private citizen offered to pay to construct 15 charter schools in Detroit in 2002, the teachers union staged a one day walk out to protest the agreement and the agreement died.

Voucher programs.  In 1992 the California Teacher’s Association opposed a proposed ballot measure for a voucher program saying: “There are some proposals that are so evil that they should never even be presented to the voters”  (Wall Street Journal, September 14, 1992).  Evil?  In 2007 the Utah Educator’s Association mobilized to defeat the Utah Voucher law while engaging in public handwringing about the influence of out of state money supporting vouchers while at the same time securing $3 Million in out of state money from the NEA to defeat the voucher program.  Out of state money is apparently only a problem if it helps the other side.

In 1992 the District of Columbia teachers work day was altered to change a 30 minute preparation time to instruction time.  In response to this change the teachers distributed letters to parents explaining that no college recommendations would be given to students whose parents did not take the union’s side in the dispute.  Requests for a college recommendation had to be accompanied with three letters to elected leaders, taking the union’s side, with self addressed stamped envelopes.

Perhaps the worst teachers union is in New York City, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).  The termination process for incompetent, criminal, or unfit teachers takes years and often costs more than $1 Million per termination to implement.  The teachers are paid while waiting for an arbitrator to rule on the merits of the allegations whether it is an addiction problem, sexual misconduct, or plain incompetence.  Approximately 700 UFT teachers are being paid to do nothing while waiting for their arbitration.  No wonder public education is so expensive in the Big Apple.

Many teachers are doing the best they can for the students and should be commended for their efforts.  The unions are souring the teacher-student relationship and not serving the students or the public interest.  Shame on the unions for pretending otherwise.

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