A Sept. 23 article heralded the return of the Education Achievement Authority to the public discourse. The EAA is an organization chartered by Eastern Michigan University and Detroit Public Schools to take over and improve Michigan’s worst public schools.
The Washtenaw County Education Association began a boycott of EMU student teachers to put pressure on the university’s board of regents to end the agreement.
This case is just one example of the negative side effects of public sector teachers unions.
“What side effect?” you might ask. The side effect is the union putting the union first, teachers second and the public last.
The fact is that the schools absorbed by the EAA do not employ union teachers. Teachers unions do not seem to care about the students if an attempt at reform harms their members. This is why the same unions oppose charter schools and vouchers allowing low-income children to attend private schools.
These organizations always advocate for more money, but usually seem to advocate against any government reform.
The WCEA has also clearly shown how much they care about college students and prospective teachers. They have shown this by using defenseless college students as a political football to try to get more dues-paying members.
These students are passionate about education and are trying to make a future for themselves. Education students need these student-teacher positions to get through their programs and gain knowledge and experience, but the unions want to deny the students the positions because of decisions the students have no control over.
However, this is only the latest trouble with public sector unions. The fact is: Public sector unions advocate against the public interest.
“It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government,” said George Meany, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. in 1955. President Franklin Roosevelt agreed with him.
Unions were originally organized to fight for safe working conditions and a fair wage, to be taken out of the large profits of a powerful corporation. Public sector unions donate millions of dollars every election to elect the politician they would rather negotiate with, use their influence to affect what policies are implemented and take money that would go to schools and repurpose it for wages and benefits.
Public sector unions are even responsible for the deteriorating fiscal health of America’s municipalities. Even Detroit’s public sector unions refused, on numerous occasions, to negotiate with the floundering city before bankruptcy forced them back to the table.
They even work against their members when their interest conflicts with that of the union. Look at their opposition to right to work, which would allow workers to decide if they want to be members of their union, and many unions’ restrictive policies on when members are allowed to leave the union.
There have even been teachers who have sued the Michigan Education Association because of these restrictions.
While the EAA has its problems, and the verdict is out on its effectiveness, but that does not mean the union is in the right. The only reason I will not be completely disappointed if EMU caves in to union pressure is because they are doing it to protect the students.
The lesson to be taken from this: When cities are going bankrupt and schools are failing, public sector unions should be scrutinized just as much as any politician, government or business.