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Parents Go After Union Stranglehold on School Boards

Posted on Tuesday, November 9, 2021
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by Outside Contributor
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35 Comments
school board elections

Parents who never imagined running for office battled to win seats on local school boards last week; they won some but lost many. Their fiercest opponents were the teacher’s unions.

The media portrayed these school board races as culture wars, but more than anything, they were struggles by parents to wrest control of the boards from self-serving unions. For decades, the unions have maintained a tight grip on who gets elected. No wonder school district decisions — about budgets, masking, COVID closures, curriculum, and teacher contracts — protect teachers first. Never mind what’s best for kids.

That needs to change. Albuquerque, New Mexico, winning candidate Courtney Jackson told a local newspaper, “the board of education should be the kids’ union,” not a puppet of the teachers union. Jackson decided to run after watching the board discuss when to end lockdowns. The discussion focused entirely on what teachers wanted, never addressing the kids’ needs. “Their interests were not brought up once,” she said.

In Guilford, Connecticut, a small seacoast town, the Guilford Education Association, representing teachers, ran the show. In a questionnaire for school board candidates, the union’s No. 1 question asked candidates to pledge support for “collective bargaining rights.” Question two asked candidates to guarantee unions will be included in all discussions of the schools’ policies and funding. Question three asked candidates to promise to “oppose all proposals that would censor teachers from teaching about inclusion, diversity, and equity.” What about the kids?

All five Guilford candidates who gave the “correct” answers won the union’s backing and prevailed on election night. Their slogan was “Protect Guilford Schools,” but their true goal was “Protect the Teachers Union.” One of the winners boasted of coming from “a long line of educators,” while another promised, “I will listen to our teachers, administrators, and superintendent and respect that they act always in the best interest of our students and schools.”

Nearly everywhere, teachers’ unions use money and manpower to turn out voters. Challengers need to do the same. The three Albuquerque school board candidates who defeated the union slate went to the local chamber of commerce, other small business groups, and Republican party allies for alternate sources of money.

When the results were in, the president of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation predicted “a new dynamic on the board,” with some members actually disagreeing with the school district’s employees. Imagine that.

In Colorado’s cities, including Denver and Steamboat Springs, union slates won handily. But in Douglas County, Aurora County, and Greeley Evans School District 6, challengers outspent the union and broke its monopoly on school board seats.

After union-backed candidates were defeated in Douglas County, Kevin DiPasquale, president of the local chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, predicted big changes. In the past, teachers could just assume the school board “had their backs.”

In Montclair, New Jersey, the mayor, Sean Spiller, serves as president of the state’s largest teachers union but also appointed the school board — a blatant conflict of interest. The board negotiates the teachers’ contract. Last Tuesday, the town voted 70% in favor of replacing mayoral control with an elected board.

That’s an improvement, but electing the board won’t guarantee students become the priority. In New Jersey, the teachers union wields enormous electoral power with the support of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.

Although school board elections are often officially labeled nonpartisan, that’s intentionally misleading. In Tennessee and Florida, Republican state lawmakers are pushing legislation to discard the nonpartisan label so voters can see these elections for what they are.

Last week’s elections were just the beginning. Many school districts will elect board members sometime in the spring instead of on Election Day. That’s by design to keep the public in the dark that an election is even happening and to discourage turnout.

Parents and other concerned citizens have roughly half a year to gird for these upcoming contests. For anyone who has a child in public school, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York. Follow her on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey.

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Eddie Mack
Eddie Mack
2 years ago

Teacher unions exist for the benefit of teachers, not children. The union leaders keep their positions by getting more for their members. Whether it harms children or not is irrelevant to them.

The only way to protect children from those unions is to establish an intervening body. It must include parents. It must exclude union members. It must be more than advisory; it must have authority. And it must be a requirement for every public school district.

Our existing school boards would do nicely by restricting membership to parents and non-union members.

Burt Fairchild
Burt Fairchild
2 years ago

To be effective, parents need to support of teachers who would lead a union desertification campaign. Parents can deal directly with teachers over terms and conditions of their employment without a corrupt third party (teacher union) involved.

Jerry
Jerry
2 years ago

We just need to go take control of these school boards! If they don’t do what’s right for the children then drag their ass out the door and replace them! You need to be more heavy-handed than the unions! We all know that elections don’t work!!!

Gregg H Lambert
Gregg H Lambert
2 years ago

Twenty years ago I told my sister “f**k the unions, every stinking one of them”. I was right then, I’m right as of now

Kevin S
Kevin S
2 years ago

No kids here, but not the point. Each generation are the future leaders – their education / indoctrination sets their future agenda. High time for me to attend a school board meeting, then vote accordingly.

David
David
2 years ago

Wait and see the amount of money that will pour in during the next elections to DEFEAT these brave HEROES(you have to be courageous to take on these left wing lunatics that want to control our children) they know that is the way to destroy our nation in future years.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
2 years ago

Go after all school board or that national school board body

susabella
susabella
2 years ago

I hope the parents go after not only the school boards, but the teachers’ unions! They hold so much power and control. I wish teachers would go after them en masse, because that’s the only way they will be brought to bear.

anna hubert
anna hubert
2 years ago

Public employees should not be able to strike thus hold poblic a hostage to their demands it should be in the contract those who do not like it do not need to apply for a job.That should have been addressed at least 30 years ago but there is not a polititian who would touch that one with a 10 foot pole.There are other ways to negotiate a contract as for boards school or hospital they are useles

Tim Toroian
Tim Toroian
2 years ago

Whether or not they like it All unions are communistic in nature. They don’t seem to realize if the means of production were in the hands of workers there would be no new capital for new products or to repair equipment.

Nobody’s Business
Nobody’s Business
2 years ago

Teachers unions are totally worthless pieces of excrement. They fight against paying good teachers more than worthless ones. So the good ones eventually leave and go into the private sector to make more money. The worthless ones ruin our kids. Good teachers are worth a lot but thanks to unions we’ll never have them . They protect the abusive, the sexual predators, basically short of murder they keep them teaching. Time for parents to start taking care of business the old fashioned way, the way everyone understands. We had a superintendent at my kids school that went out of his way to harass my son who was very sure of himself. I dealt with the lying from principal and superintendent and found out from teachers and coaches they were lying. Then way later I found out the superintendent was kicked off school bus as a prick kid more than anyone else at his school. Who kicked him off for being a prick my wife’s dad and uncle who were bus drivers at time . So that Superintendent was trying to get even. Didn’t work because I didn’t let them too many witnesses to things that went on!

D.P.
D.P.
2 years ago

Honestly, the only way to work this problem is to convince teachers to change their relationship with the unions…..or form their own local collective to have a unified voice. Unions have lost their real worth and now amount to political power bases that pillage their members and give lip service to those whom they are supposed to be helping. Parents would be wise to go to teachers personally and talk to them about being part of the union….and bring with them documentation about that union and how it uses its funds, what it really does behind the scenes and help teachers see the reality, that they don’t need a union if they have parents support. So parents….take that teacher out to lunch….show your real concern for them as they seek to be providers of education, both academic and moral. The unions have a strong hold on their members (couched in threat and fear), and that hold can only be broken by a rebellion from within…by teachers, who have parents behind them. Then the issue of school boards will be better handled. My experience with unions has never been what one would call leaning in my direction….it was always about power and money and political clout. Every union member needs to look at the books, follow the money, and see what and who is really acting. Mutiny works when it comes to unions. Finally, work with your state and federal leaders, (if possible) and make “right to work” a national law.

Luke
Luke
2 years ago

I’ve never had the privilege of being a father. But, I’ve seen the frustration in parents and the liberal indoctrination in their children, (who won’t carry on a conversation with anyone other than those of the same mind-set, i.e. Donald Trump is a retarded monster but Xi Jinping gets a pass.)

Annnnd then, there’s the home-schooled kids. . . I have yet to meet a home-schooled kid who isn’t well-mannered, cordial and respectful. The contrast is truly amazing. While part of that is parenting, another part is curriculum and quality of the teacher. A qualified parent is apparently far more effective than unionized teachers.

Until there are adequate and enforceable laws that protect employees from opportunistic tyrants, unions will be a necessary evil. And, as long as union members continue to believe that the democratic party puts food on their table, there will always be insanity among union members. And, they will vote accordingly. For the most part, fair elections are a thing of the past BECAUSE of unions. I’m from Minnesota and I have seen what unions will do to any opposition..

Richard Brosius
Richard Brosius
2 years ago

I am a lifelong Republican, but the Party has it all wrong with education. First, take a look at teachers. They get blamed for everything that goes wrong. And they are expected to fix all the problems, even though they have no say in what caused it. I am talking about Pennsylvania where teachers are required to earn a minimum of a BS degree to get a teaching certificate, then are required to earn additional credits for the rest of their career. In smaller and in rural schools they will start somewhere in the $30K, and after 15 years of service will earn in the high $60K. Now take a look at the job teachers do. They set the groundwork for all other professions, doctors, accountants, scientists, lawyers, etc. Where would this country be without teachers?

Jocie Taylor
Jocie Taylor
2 years ago

Ways to I see it as if we can get rid of the Unions would be better off

GunRunner
GunRunner
2 years ago

Of course the Teacher Unions are fighting change! If they lose teacher unions, then UAW, and AFL-CIO are right behind! Used to be a time, like in the 40’s thru the ’70s, when Unions fought for workers, and were really needed to protect them! Starting in the ’70s, though, the Unions became all about the money, willing to cripple industries and manufacturers, to get more for their membership, at the cost of the economy! Doubt it? Just look at the United Auto Workers union where, back in the 1970s. the average wage was close to $60/ hour…disgusting, to say the least…

JJ Johnson-Smith
JJ Johnson-Smith
2 years ago

I have said this a hundred times, and I’ll say it again: Take your kids OUT of these Indoctrination Centers. If you empty the classrooms, teachers are no longer necessary. If teachers are no longer necessary, Teacher’s UNIONS have no purpose, and NO control over your kids and what they do or do not, learn! THEN, we rebuild our schools, community by community, and keep government OUT! It’s very, very simple, and if we all escrow our school taxes, we rob them of ALL power over our children’s education. It’s OUR money, and WE will use it to rebuild healthy, moral, truthful education.
#EMPTYTHECLASSROOMS

Steven H
Steven H
2 years ago

Defund the Department of Education at the Federal and State levels. They are no longer educating students and are crippling our coming generations with indoctrination.

Fran
Fran
2 years ago

PURGE THE TEACHERS UNION’S AND THE SCHOOL BOARDS

Mary
Mary
2 years ago

Please do not place this on the teachers shoulders. It’s the unions that get what they want and just because they have to belong to the union it doesn’t mean they agree with the unions. For the same reason I don’t think unions should endorse political candidates.

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