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Teachers: Unions Are Cheapening Our Profession

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Somewhere back in our school days, we all had a special teacher who made learning fun or who pushed us into achieving more than we thought possible. If you were lucky, you had several teachers like that.

But we’ve all had that certain teacher who liked to show videos on Friday while he sat in the back of the room grading papers, or reading the Sports section of the newspaper. He was more concerned with getting on early start on his weekend than he was about what (or if) the students were learning.

The majority of public school teachers are dedicated and hard working. But a certain percentage of teachers are just going through the motions, putting in their time until their pension kicks in.

Watch ‘Unions vs. Good Teachers’ – Episode 3 – “Kids Aren’t Cars.”

Even though experience tells us otherwise, teacher unions want schools to treat teachers as interchangeable and indistinguishable. The unions want the marginal teachers to be paid the same as the good teachers. How does that make any sense?

Consider a survey by the Association of American Educators, an organization for teachers that actually has the interest of children at heart. It found only 32% of teachers felt they should be judged based on the number of years they’ve been in the system. Likewise, contrary to what unions would have us believe, AAE found 81% of teachers disagreed with the notion that “tenure is necessary for an educator to properly perform his or her job effectively.”

The collectivist mindset is killing our public schools and the spirit of hard-working teachers. There are myriad examples where the union has to “rein in” an eager teacher who willingly works beyond her contractual duties.

And what happens if a teacher dares to not join the union? One Indiana teacher was kicked off a school committee because she refused to join up. A Michigan teacher withheld her dues to protest the union’s radical leadership. The Michigan Education Association dragged her to court, and made her pay up.

Unions operate by treating workers as interchangeable cogs in the machine. Unions value job protection over accountability and narrowly-defined work responsibilities over individual initiative and innovation.

Does that sound like a formula for great public schools?

By protecting the worst, unions are hampering the best. Many teachers want reform. They want accountability and performance pay. They want their lazy colleagues to be shown the door. What true professional wouldn’t want these things?

Still, the union runs public education in most states. The teacher unions have presided over the decline of public education in America, and many of the good teachers know it.

Watch "Kids Aren't Cars" Episode 3: Unions vs. Good Teachers, and learn what must be done to save the teaching profession from the teacher unions.

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