Don’t confuse teachers with teachers’ unions

There are many good public educators focused on prioritizing academic excellence and doing whatever they can to meet all of their students’ needs. Their efforts are truly all about the kids.

Unfortunately, there’s a louder voice pretending its agenda to politicize education and turn classrooms into ideological battlegrounds is supported by all K-12 public teachers.

It’s not.

We mustn’t confuse teachers with teachers’ unions, writes Lance Christensen, California Policy Center’s vice president of education policy and government affairs, in The Epoch Times. “In concept, teachers uniting together to negotiate on behalf of their colleagues over issues of salary, benefits, and conditions in the classroom makes sense. Yet there’s a dark and unpleasant underside to these unions…”

This dark side has reared its ugly head in a variety of ways — from pushing divisive, political ideologies to blocking education reform that would foster student progress. “Teachers” unions (intentionally in quotes) “do not represent the will of good teachers,” writes veteran educator and former union board member Rebecca Friedrichs. “In fact, the unions are not who they claim to be, and they use teachers as pawns to fund their aggressive socialist agenda.”

They harshly bully and punish educators who push back, while pouring out accolades and media coverage on union activists who’ve infiltrated our schools and have no qualms about harming our kids and Republic.

Minnesota educators pay roughly $1,000 per year in union dues. Those dues get sent to the local, state, and national unions for them to spend on advocacy, lobbying, political candidates and political activities. It ends up amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

And then when the “union-controlled politicians are in power, they do the bidding of the unions to continue getting their massive financial support,” adds Friedrichs.

Case in point is union-backed Gov. Tim Walz, who appoints members of Minnesota’s Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board — the overseer of teacher licensing and certification and behind the controversial licensure rule changes expected to go into effect in 2024.

Minnesota educators are limited to a once-a-year opportunity to resign union membership, and many have said “no thanks” to the union’s efforts that haven’t improved education, despite all the dollars flowing their way to do so.

It’s important we continue supporting and encouraging educators not caught up in the union’s antics. Treat educators as professionals rather than like assembly-line workers? Nah, the back-loaded, union-enforced, rigid salary schedules will do. Workplace democracy? Nah, your opinion on who should represent you is rendered mute. And that promised pension? It’s not secure and likely underfunded, but stick it out for 30 years and see what’s available, as it’s a bad deal for young teachers.

Not all teachers should be confused with teachers’ unions. Thank goodness.