The failure of public schools to properly educate American students, particularly nonwhite minorities, can be attributed largely to the policies and priorities of teachers’ unions. This is according to the website, discoverthenetworks.org.
The largest teachers’ unions in America today include the 3.2 million member National Education Association (NEA) and the 1.5 million member America Federation of Teachers (AFT). Devoted to promoting all manner of left-sing political agendas, these organizations rank among the most powerful political forces in the United States today. Forbes magazine routinely ranks the NEA among the top 15 in its “Washington’s Power 25” list of organizations that wield the greatest political influence in the American legislative system. The Association has earned that rating, for the most part, by making almost $31 million in campaign contributions to political candidates since the early 1990s. The AFT has given more than $28 million to its own favored candidates. Furthermore, these figures do not include expenditures on such politically oriented initiatives as television ads or “get out the vote” efforts.
If the $59 million in combined NEA and AFT campaign donations, more than $56 million has gone to Democrats. This imbalance reflects only the political leanings of the union leaders, not the rank and file school teachers. Surprisingly, just 45% of public school teachers are registered Democrats, and more NEA members identify themselves as conservatives (27%) than liberals (21%).
The NEA derives most of its operating funds from the member dues that, in almost every state, are deducted automatically from teachers’ salaries. Because member dues constitute the very lifeblood of the teachers’ unions, the latter strive mightily to avoid losing any of those members regardless of their professional competence or lack thereof. Even in school districts where students perform far below the academic norm for their grade levels, and where dropout rates are astronomically high, scarcely one in a thousand teachers is ever dismissed in any given year.
In most states, teachers are automatically awarded tenure after only a few years on the job. Once tenured, even the most ineffective and incompetent instructors can have long and relatively lucrative careers in the classroom if they wish to stay in the field of education. For example, between 1995 and 2005, just 112 of the 43,000 tenured teachers in Los Angeles lost their jobs, even though 49% of the students in their school district failed to graduate from high school. The story has been much the same elsewhere.
In addition to aggressively defending the rights of incompetent instructors, the teachers’ unions have likewise objected to merit pay proposals that would reward good teachers and punish bad ones. When Florida legislators in 2009 called for a merit pay system, the head of the state teachers’ union accused the lawmakers of punishing and scapegoating teachers and creating more chaos in Florida public schools. When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie suggested a similar arrangement for his state in 2010, the teachers’ unions asserted that his effort was intentionally designed to demean and defund public education. In Chicago, union officials have argued that merit pay programs can narrow curricula by encouraging teachers to focus on testing.
Teachers’ unions also oppose voucher programs that would enable the parents of children who attend failing inner-city public schools to send their youngsters, instead, to private schools where they would have a better chance to succeed academically.
While progressive democrat politicians, who receive much financial support from teachers’ unions, are opposed to school voucher programs, they continue to send their kids to expensive private schools. When former Vice President, Al Gore, who was asked why he opposed school vouchers for black children, while sending his own son to a private school, he said, “If I had a child in an inner-city school, I would probably be for vouchers too.”
Everyone reading this article probably has one or more friends who are public school teachers and members of one or more teachers’ unions. Low pay appears to be the major gripe of public school teachers, and here in Alabama, teachers do have a reputations of being only concerned with pay and not concerned with teaching our children. They agree that there are problems in the states’ public schools that need to be fixed, with their solution being just give us raises and we’ll fix the problems. Most of us who work in the private sector have to perform adequately before we are given raises by our employers.
I have observed over the years that public school teachers are very inflexible when it comes to new and innovative ideas for improving the quality of education. As indicated above, they are against a voucher system which would allow students who would, because of residence, have to attend failing schools, be given vouchers to attend private schools. Furthermore, public school teachers are against any type of home schooling, even though home schooling has been proven to be successful.
The only method of teaching they appear to advocate is that which occurs in a school room where there is one teacher and possibly an aid teaching a small group of students. During the technological revolution (1989 to 2005), the teachers I knew were adverse to any kind of modern technology and resisted any kind of change to their methods of operation.
Those of us who have been in the workplace for years know that “ways of doing things” are constantly changing. Think back to that first job you had out of college then fast-forward to today. Wow!
Like Social Security, certain parts of teacher compensation packages are considered “sacred cows.” Don’t you dare even whisper about changing them. If you suggest making changes or that changes might be coming, you’re automatically accused of being against public education and hating school teachers. Sound familiar?
In many states across the nation, including in my state, Alabama, it has been suggested by private financiers that fully funded retirement systems might not be able to sustain themselves. For those currently drawing retirement benefits, those benefits won’t change. But for younger state employees, retirement funding might have to change. Public school teachers, including union leaders, have demonized anyone who suggested that changes might be needed in the future.
Most public school teachers I know vote Democrat and hate Republicans. They vote Democrat because Democrats promise to procure higher salaries and better benefits for them. It’s been this way for decades and nothing for teachers seems to have improved.
While towing the liberal line along with having an inflexible attitude toward change by members of teachers’ unions, is most certainly oppressing blacks and people of color, because so many who are falling into these groups do not have the means to send their children to private schools or the time to home school their children.
Have the leaders of teachers’ unions, along with the rank and file members, ever thought about listening to what private enterprise is suggesting for improvements. Maybe if they did, both sides could use their expertise and influence to create a robust public education environment. Sadly, though, I’m not holding my breath.
Note: Much of the information provided for this article was taken from discoverthenetworks.org.