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I asked our team to pause for family time this week before kids return to school. The homepage is updated daily. The Digest returns on Monday, August 2. —Mark Alexander

Arnold Ahlert / Jul. 22, 2021

Don’t Renew Teachers Union Contracts When They Expire

Everything is downstream from education, and it’s time to end the union chokehold.

Right now there is a debate about the pros and cons of putting cameras in classrooms. Some believe they are necessary to prevent our children from being indoctrinated, and/or to check teacher competency and the appropriateness of subject matter. Others insist that it would ultimately end up hurting the children themselves if a poorly thought-out comment was leaked online. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong debate: Either way, the presence of unionized teachers remains a constant — one that has proven to be a spectacular failure over the course of decades.

In the “good” old days, that failure largely centered around sheer incompetence. Prior to the pandemic, test results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) revealed further declines in reading and math scores that followed a decade of stagnation. Despite these realties, most parents remained either unaware of or resigned to the status quo that saw American students routinely underperforming in comparison to their international peers.

Unions and their allies always had a litany of excuses for those failures, with a lack of funding topping the list, despite the fact that America spends more money per pupil on primary and secondary schools than any other major developed nation in the world.

Then came the pandemic, and the true nature of teachers unions became impossible to ignore. “Even as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization warned that the harm from continued school closures dramatically outweighs the threat posed by COVID, unions successfully fought to keep campuses shuttered, while ensuring their members still get paid,” columnist Robert Fellner explains. “Rather than doing everything they could to ensure students could return to the classroom as quickly as possible, unions exploited this terrible crisis for their own gain.”

Indeed, and few did more to exploit the situation than United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), which held returning to classrooms hostage to a litany of progressive political demands that included putting a moratorium on charter schools and defunding police. It also forged a collective bargaining agreement that prohibited schools from requiring face-to-face online instruction — and allowed teachers to work only four hours per day.

When some parents took educating their children into their own hands and formed “pods” or “micro-schools,” they were deemed “racist” and “privileged” for doing so by unionists and their allies — who ultimately revealed that the equal sharing of misery was all that mattered.

Now the utterly bankrupt and highly politicized nature of these unions has become impossible to ignore. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), has proposed an end to standardized testing. The National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teachers union, approved a plan to push Critical Race Theory in all 50 states — and to attack those who oppose its implementation. And both the NEA and the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) have aligned themselves with Black Lives Matter, with the latter organization asserting that “until people of African descent are treated with dignity, humanity, and respect in all areas of our society and the barriers to their safety and health and full participation in the economy and wealth creation are dismantled, all lives do not matter.”

That BLM advocated for the “disruption” of the nuclear family before removing that agenda from its website? That it openly supports the communist regime in Cuba? That its Utah chapter labeled the American flag a “symbol of hatred”? None of this matters to the NEA, whose delegates pledged to “join with Black Lives Matter at School and the Zinn Education Project” for a “national day of action” on George Floyd’s birthday, whereby recruited teachers would hold political demonstrations and “teach lessons about structural racism and oppression.”

Teachers unions also support the entirety of the LGBTQ agenda, one that includes familiarizing children as young as six and seven with gender “fluidity,” and having them participate in drag queen story hours.

How do they get away with all of it? As the campaign contribution-tracking website Open Secrets reveals, teachers unions have given Democrats “at least 94 percent of the funds they contributed to candidates and parties since as far back as 1990, where our data begins.”

In short, teachers unions operate a de facto monopoly, with the full quid pro quo support of the Democrat Party. And anyone who opposes their agenda can expect to endure unrelenting, full-throated accusations of bigotry, transphobia, etc.

Thus, the first question is obvious: Why are Republicans allowing it to happen? The answer is as simple as it is depressing: Because they are largely a collection of spineless, go-along-to-get-along milquetoasts. Thus, while a number of mostly GOP-controlled states have proposed or passed laws banning the teaching of CRT and “transgender” participation in sports, unionized teachers are signing pledges to defy banning CRT, and the Biden administration is threatening schools that don’t abide the “transgender” agenda with a loss of federal funding.

It’s time for a paradigm shift. States with Republican majorities should enact measures stating that once a teachers union contract expires in any city or town in the state, it will not be renewed. Instead, teachers will be hired on a case-by-case, meritocratic basis.

The timing couldn’t be better for such an effort. The public has never been more aware of the contempt teachers unions have for their concerns, and the disruption such a move would engender has already been preceded by the disruption of teachers unions keeping kids out of school for more than a year. There is little doubt millions of parents dread a return to the status quo, with a substantial majority of them opposing CRT, along with countless others appalled by an agenda of sexualization that often includes no opt-out clauses for parents who object.

By definition, unions protect and promote the interests of their members. Thus, even under the best of circumstances, children and parents are a secondary consideration — when they’re not being outright dismissed with contempt by “woke” unions and their allies on local school boards.

Now that teachers unions have become completely political, and education itself has devolved into the wholesale indoctrination of children — the most infuriating aspect of which is teaching American students to despise their own nation — it’s time to end the unions’ stranglehold.

Nothing could be more “win-win” for Republicans. The overwhelming majority of Americans want children to learn how to think, not what to think, and allowing contracts to simply expire could be the foremost reframing of an argument in the history of the nation. In short, instead of taking their usual reactive position to an agenda framed by Democrats, Republicans could force Democrats into that position. Make them defend teaching children that color matters more than character, that testing and standards don’t really matter, and that sexual dysphoria should be championed in lieu of biological reality.

Everything is downstream from education. Unions and their Democrat Party allies have made it clear they want a socialist/Marxist future for America and that they have full control over its implementation. It’s time for Republicans to disabuse them of their ambitions — in no uncertain terms.

Quite simply, “Putting Children First” is the mother of all winning campaign slogans.

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