Backlash: Parents cooling to unions’ propaganda

At last. Parent groups are catching on to how unions rope unwary parents into their schemes. This has spawned a Big Flap between teacher’s unions and parents.

If you are a parent, please hear me out. Covertly, teacher’s unions are either using you or undermining your authority to get what they want for teachers.

It has always been curious to me, even peculiar, why local parents groups have allied with teacher unions on some issues that are central to the union playbook. For example, some parents’ groups in Palm Beach County played into the union’s multi-year scheme to discredit a school superintendent who stood up to unions. Well, parents here and nationally are starting to wise up. Parents are starting to see that teachers’ unions do not operate for the benefit of their children. The union’s mission is to benefit teachers, even at the cost of quality education for kids.

In California, parents rose up against unions that protected bad teachers. To counter union power, parents worked to pass a new reform law named the “Parent Trigger.” This law says if over half the parents of children in a poorly-rated school sign a petition, radical reforms must be undertaken to improve that school, including closing it, or replacing the principal and bringing in charter school operators. Of course, the Parent Trigger Law, which eviscerated union power, was opposed by the teacher’s union.

Similar struggles between parents and unions are happening in Connecticut. The teacher’s union there went into kill mode, trying to subvert school reform that the local version of “Parent Trigger” put in place. Last year, Connecticut passed a law empowering parents to shut down failing schools, and the teacher’s union launched an attack that neutered it. Then the union bragged publicly about how they gutted Parent Trigger. This spurred outrage: thousands of parents stormed into the capital to support parent empowerment. Formerly naive parents now know that the union, by obstructing legislation rooting out bad teachers, is committed to a narrow agenda that puts the interests of teachers over that of students and parents.

Now, evidence is mounting that parents are catching on to union duplicity, and that unions try to use parents to attain their ends. None of this should be surprising. Today’s education unions are not interested in education reform. The status quo suits them just fine if it’s a tenure system in which good teachers and administrators go unrewarded, and if the system makes it hard to get rid of poor teachers. The union doesn’t care much if you’re a bad teacher, so long as you pay your union dues.

The union agenda causes parents and unions to commence combat when failing schools enter the picture.

Why? Because when unions blindly support teachers in failing schools, it’s proof that union concern is for teachers, not students. Such support destroys the union’s carefully concocted public propaganda that they are “reform-minded”, and willing to “collaborate” with parents and join with community interests. Hogwash. Those same unions engage in what’s called “the dance of the lemons”, the unions’ systemic plan to shuffle bad teachers from school to school instead of firing them. This puts principals into the terrible necessity to find crafty and devious methods to remove underperforming teachers.

Parents must come to recognize that these developments provide “an illuminating look into union cynicism and power,” as the Wall Street Journal put it. Unions want collaboration with parents only when it boosts their own power.

John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company.
John R. Smith

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