Do teachers unions need to go?

When I first started in school choice activism, the recommended approach was to never criticize the teachers unions. The union PR machine has been so effective over the decades that just to mention the roadblocks they routinely throw up in front of education progress was a third rail. It would earn you the label “union buster” among the very people you were trying to persuade. School choice is a bipartisan issue with plenty of Democrats in favor of it, but it was hard to enlist those Democrats to team up in the fight when it might seem like you’re asking them to denigrate the union system.

So we stayed away from it and made our arguments in other ways. There’s too much money and not enough accountability; stats show choice works; poor minority students benefit most from school choice; school choice creates competition which drives public schools to up their game. There’s a long list of persuasive arguments and in the interest of not creating an unnecessary divide in delicate alliances, we tiptoed around the union issue.

But I can no longer deny the biggest issue facing the success of our students. I can no longer pretend that the number one roadblock to providing the education our communities need is just a “side issue.” I can no longer be a party to the perpetuation of greed in the name of “coming together.” What has happened to our children during COVID has stripped away the last of my tolerance.

Teachers unions are a scourge and it is time to end them.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a student of history and I understand the power of collective bargaining and how it changed our society for the better during the industrial age. The wealthy and entrepreneurial industrialists pushed us into the era of American dominance and that is a good thing. There is no doubt that without being forced into accountability, many would have continued to abuse and overwork desperate employees and their children. Unionizing forced that accountability.

Power and greed are not exclusive to any one economic set, and unfortunately as unions began to increase in influence and dues money, they also increased their greed. Which is fine when a private company is negotiating with union bullies. That’s a transactional relationship and companies can be held accountable for their own terrible negotiations. I don’t like it, but it’s private business. Everyone can do what they want.

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