It’s strike season for teachers unions across America, and people are waking up to the destruction the unions’ juvenile behavior inflicts on children, parents and taxpayers.
In New York, the Buffalo Teachers Federation is threatening to strike if it doesn’t get a larger pay increase and more money for veteran teachers. It’s also against the school district extending school days to fit in more instructional time.
Chicago barely avoided a strike after Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) reached a tentative contract deal that will reportedly require at least $90 million from taxpayers to pay pension contributions that CTU members aren’t willing to pay themselves.
The Lake Placid News reported Chicago parents were “relieved” the strike was averted, but why should parents feel “relieved” when teachers decide to do the job they’ve been hired to do? Isn’t it time for parents to say they are done making bad deals with greedy teachers unions?
When CTU took to the picket lines in 2012 over wages and benefits — shocking, I know — Chicago News Channel 3 reported the strike “left about 350,000 students without a school to attend and parents scrambling to find alternatives.”
The district did leave 144 of its 578 schools open for students to go to for part of the normal school day, but that wasn’t enough to keep kids safe while parents were at work. Instead, “Dozens of churches and civic organizations … stepped into the vacuum to provide activities for the thousands of suddenly idle students,” Channel 3 reported. “And police, expecting an uptick in trouble from kids on the streets, pulled officers from desk duty to increase patrols.”
The Illinois News Network reported in June that CTU teachers “receive the highest lifetime earnings among the nation’s 10 largest school districts,” but does this matter to anyone? Apparently not to the teachers. Do the union members care their absence from the classroom causes anguish to parents concerned about what their children will do all day while they’re out of school, not learning? Do the unions think about the hardship they cause the taxpayer, many of whom don’t even have children to send to school but who nevertheless must continue to shell out more and more hard-earned money to pay for their bloated salaries and premium healthcare packages?
Of course the unions don’t care. They are concerned first and foremost with their continued existence and their dues-paying members. Like a spoiled child, the teachers unions throw a tantrum each time they don’t get what they want.
There’s a silver lining to the unions’ juvenile behavior, however: Parents and taxpayers cannot tolerate the burden of the unions cutting class and demanding more money forever. Growing frustration at the unions’ behavior is evident in newspaper articles and editorials across the country, on social media, and elsewhere.
Elizabeth Hovde, a columnist at OregonLive.com, wrote ahead of an impending strike in August, “Teachers union strikes deserve detention. … Unlike teachers, most workers don’t have the ability to take the state’s school-age population and their families hostage when they don’t like their work conditions or pay.”
A piece published by The Buffalo News’ editorial board announced in August, “Unions are fighting for teachers, not their students.” A similar editorial in the Chicago Tribune in December 2015 declared, “I support Chicago teachers — but not their union.”
The Atlantic wrote a piece in 2012 exposing the fact that Buffalo pays for its teachers to have plastic surgery, which the author says reveals how “a broken collective bargaining system has kept a ridiculous, multimillion-dollar perk alive.”
Perusing the Twitter hashtag “CTUStrike” also provides insight into the frustrated attitudes of those harmed by the teachers unions. One student wrote, “#CTUStrike so you make us wait until midnight just to make us more sleep deprived for tomorrow?”
“I didn’t touch any of my homework and if any of my teachers try coming at me I swear I’m gonna explode. #CTUStrike,” wrote another student.
People are annoyed, angry, and inconvenienced. They know the teachers unions are at fault, but what can be done?
The answer is school choice. Not everyone is able to afford private school tuition or able make time to homeschool their children, but school choice programs — which come in the form of vouchers, education savings accounts, homeschool reimbursements and tax credit scholarships, among other options — give parents control of how their children are educated and enable them to escape the power of self-interested teachers unions.