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“THE CONTROLLING FORCE”
by Cheryl Lacey, ©2020
(Aug. 31, 2020) — The biggest problem families and schools face is the power imbalance generated by unions. Unions do not have the cure to ailing American schools. Unions are the ailment. Decades of ‘silver bullet’ reforms have failed to clear away the decay entrenched in school systems. The solution – dismantle union control over every American family.
Consider the following.
Just over 50 million students are currently enrolled in approximately 98,300 public schools across close to 13,600 school districts nationwide. The approximate number of teachers in these public schools is 3.2 million.
In spite of that, just 2 main national teachers unions – the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) – represent teachers who are responsible for the school education of 50 million Americans.
In other words, the controlling force in every public school in the United States is not the administrator, the District Superintendent or the President of the United States. The balance of power lies squarely in the hands of the union movement.
Unions work on numbers. In fact, they love numbers – the bigger, the better.
There is a reason why decades of silver bullet reforms have been unsuccessful. We can’t afford them. The same tired old complaints about class size, non-instructional time and insecure tenure have to be challenged. The guarantee of a health care and a pension – despite performance – theft of the self-employed.
These union-orchestrated reforms have little do with care and concern for teachers, and even less to do with student welfare. The real benefit is to the unions themselves, in the form of numbers. Each reform requires more employees, which equates to more union members, and therefore more power and income for the unions.
Imagine the introduction of a ‘reform’ that provided one support person for every teacher. The role would be a ‘non-teaching’ one but, because the work would be carried out in schools, these new employees would become members of the 2 main teachers unions. Double the 3.2 million membership and what do you have? Union control over the 6.4 million employees who influence America’s children and their families.
Unions argue that time-poor teachers cannot manage to prepare individualised plans to cater for the varying needs of their students. However, teachers themselves are not respected as individuals; the unions only value a teacher as one of many, ensuring collective bargaining and acceptance of ‘lowest common denominator’ standards. These two features – collective bargaining and ineptitude – fuel the unions’ power base. But who is speaking out against them?
Any doubt about the unions’ encouragement of teacher ineptitude can be quelled by worldwide rankings. US schools do not rank on the World Top 20 Project for school education, and they sit at 31 for Maths, Science and Reading on the PISA worldwide ranking.
Schools are intended to be places of teaching and learning. An education is intended to afford every citizen a sense of belonging, responsibility for economic contribution and an opportunity for personal fulfilment. Schooling is paid for by the taxes of the American citizen via the government of the day. Governments and leaders come and go. Unions remain.
Educators provide a service to American families. Unions do not.
Rational Education Strategist
189 Queen St
Marching Schools Forward: Discussions on the Direction of Australian Education
(now available at Connor Court Publishing)