August 03, 2008

Letter Illustrates Problem With Teacher Unions

I'm opposed to any situation in which union membership is compulsory, especially for public employees. And while I know the law allows workers to "opt out" in many situations, the employees are often still required to pay the bulk of the union dues for "representation" that they don't want while being deprived of any voice in decision-making after exercising their right to to freely not associate with an organization that they do not feel represents their interests.

Please understand -- I've been the building representative for one of the four organizations representing teachers in my school district for the past decade, so I am not hostile to teachers voluntarily organizing to protect their own best interests. But the problem of the "union shop" model of organization is the arrogance it breeds among the leadership of the union.

A recent editorial in the Washington Post and the response of a union thug official is illustrative of what is wrong with the current model in most places.

On July 23, the Washington Post said the following in an editorial.

IT'S APPARENT that some D.C. teachers union officials don't think much of the people they represent. How else to explain their objections to Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee speaking to teachers about pending contract talks? The suggestion that simply providing information is coercive belittles the people who each day are entrusted with that very duty.

Now please realize -- these meeting were not mandatory for teachers, so no one was being forced to attend. The Chancellor (Superintendent in most districts) was going to present directly to interested teachers her vision for the city's failing schools, including information on the district's proposal for a reformist compensation plan that would allow teachers to choose either a traditional compensation package (set salary, tenure) or an incentive-based salary plan with no tenure. As noted, many of the union traditionalists want no part of the plan -- or of teachers getting their information from any source other than the union. But really, whose interests are harmed by talking and listening?

Which leads us to this response from one of the union thugs officials.

Regarding the July 23 editorial "Teachable Moment":

I dismiss the reasoning in this editorial as that of the right-wing, rich and powerful, politically connected and corporate leaders who seek to control political thought in Washington. But if I fail to respond to The Post's anti-union, anti-teacher discourse, the public just might accept your version of reality, which suggests that teachers unions oppose educational progress and have no right to advocate for teachers. I object to your comments defining me as a hardliner because I am an advocate for teachers, students and schools.

Teachers should be respected as professionals capable of discussing their contract in private without the interference of political lobbying from our bosses and newspapers. Having outsiders present at our informational sessions is totally inappropriate. Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker caused a controversy when he failed to consider input from the union's executive board and membership regarding whether we should invite Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee to our informational sessions.

The Post was simply wrong to weigh in on the decision-making processes of our members. It is time for The Post to stop putting political ideology ahead of equitable coverage of the other side of the public education reform story.

Member, Board of Trustees
Washington Teachers' Union

Now let's translate this letter.

PARAGRAPH 1: You fascists hate public schools and teachers. Only union thugs officials care about education.

PARAGRAPH 2: Letting anyone other than union thugs officials have access to our teachers -- whether district officials, members of the public, or the news media -- undercuts our ability to get the teachers to accept our skewed, one-sided view of the up-coming contract negotiations. Less information -- good. More information -- bad.

PARAGRAPH 3: The press has no right to weigh in on the operation of our public schools or the spending of public funds on teacher contracts -- unless they support the views of the union thugs officials who need teacher ignorance to maintain their hold on power. So shut up and butt out.

And folks like Candi Peterson wonder why unions like hers are so often seen as the biggest obstacle to education reform in this country.

UPDATE -- 8/6/2008: Union thugs officials complain that someone other than union thugs officials might talk to teachers about their contract. How awful that members of the public might have something to say on the matter!

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Comments on Letter Illustrates Problem With Teacher Unions

Your translation of the Union letter is hilarious.  Scarily, your version is only a slight exaggeration of the original.   

|| Posted by sonja myers, August 7, 2008 01:33 PM ||
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