Is It Time To Declare Teachers Unions “Enemies Of The People”? [CORRECTED]

.Back when Silent Calvin Coolidge was Governor of Massachusetts, his response when much of the Boston Police Department went on strike in 1919 was to draw a line in the metaphorical sand that has stiffened the spine of many executives since, notably Ronald Reagan when the air traffic controllers tried to extort the nation. Responding to labor leader Samuel Gompers, who asserted that the police were in the right, Coolidge responded via telegram on September 14, 1919 , “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anyone, anywhere, any time.”

Public unions are an ethics abomination, permitting employees to essentially hold the public hostage. The current conduct of teachers unions, flexing their muscles and attempting to use their leverage over children to push an ideological agenda largely unrelated to education, may not be endangering public safety in the strict terms of Coolidge’s day, but we need a new Calvin to expand his principle  to hold that there is no right to strike against the public welfare.

For the nation to reopen the economy successfully it is essential to reopen the schools. Sensing that they have their knees on the public’s neck, teachers unions in various states are refusing to go back to work, claiming peril that is dubious at best. There is scant evidence that children spread the Wuhan virus. Grocery store workers have been taking greater risks since the beginning of the pandemic, because people have to eat. Children also have to think, and parents have to be  able to earn money to feed them.

Protocols could be enacted to allow teachers without health issues who are not in the high-risk demographics resume teaching without unreasonable risk. Among other measures, classes could be held outside. But across the country, teachers unions are abusing their power to harm their communities and the nation, working families, and children for their own ends.

As you can see in those photos above, the Milwaukee teachers union hit a new low even for their profession by erecting fake tombstones explicitly to frighten children. Nice. The union has union joined  others, and the Democratic Socialists of America—what a coincidence!—in demanding:

• A ban on new charter schools

• A ban on private school choice

•A ban standardized tests

• Police-free schools

• But more federal funding, of course. We should be paying the people more to teach our kids, when they think that tombstone stunt is responsible .

Fire them. Give them a deadline as communities line up qualified volunteers, and tell any teachers who can’t show they are at special risk to look for another way to earn a living. As we can see from the riots in our streets and the incoherent babbling of our rising generations to explain what they are protesting, too many teachers think their job is indoctrination anyway, and critical thinking as an objective has gone the way of geography and diagramming sentences. The teachers unions should be dissolved.

Unfortunately, we romanticize a teaching profession that has long ago abandoned the profession’s ideals, and as I have pointed out here previously, it has no ethics standards. They need to have standards imposed on them, since they refuse to police themselves.

A good place to start is requiring them to do their jobs.

[Notice of correction: Originally, the post started with an inexcusable misquote from “Those Were The Days,” The “All in the Family” song, not Mary Hopkin’s hit. I removed it, I’m embarrassed, and let us never speak of it again.]

23 thoughts on “Is It Time To Declare Teachers Unions “Enemies Of The People”? [CORRECTED]

    • I always liked the song. I know Norman Lear thought he was smearing Archie and The Dingbat and we were supposed to think The Meathead was profound and the future, but I never did.

      And you knew where you were then,
      Girls were girls and men were men.

      Didn’t need no welfare state,
      Everybody pulled their weight.
      Gee the old LaSalle ran great.
      Those were the days.

      What was there not to like about that? I never saw it myself.

        • Ah Lucky. I’m sure you’re right. I was just going from memory. I didn’t google it. Those were the days when “he” was understood to include “her” when that was clearly intended.

          I still don’t understand why advertisers don’t use jingles anymore. They’re such powerful mnemonic devices. “The bigger the burger, the better the burger. The burgers are bigger at Burger KIng.” “N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestle’s makes the very best. Chaaaach-late.” Thank you Farfel.

          • Whoa. Farfel and Danny O’Day, voiced by the poor man’s Paul Winchell, now totally forgotten ventriloquist Jimmy Nelson.

            Hands! How many readers other than me knew that reference?

      • Not long ago, I made a quip in a comment about how we could use a man like Calvin Coolidge again in what I thought was a sly merging of nostalgia for the song as well as a time when leaders stood up to unions.

        I think only Bill got it.

        Sorry. I think my comment got stuck in your mind.

  1. I was going to point that out – Coolidge was actually considered a success. Of course Norman Lear had Archie applaud Hoover, perceived as a failure.

      • Well, he was certainly a failure. Hoover was an infamous micro-manager; his genius was management but not leadership. In a different era, he might have been a success. Coolidge was part of the problem with an excessively laissez faire approach to the out-of-control stock market.

        • I always liked both Coolidge’s style and his principles. He also stood firm by them, which is a rare quality these days. Unfortunately, as skilled as he was, he was the wrong man for that time slot, and his choices to veto particularly the farm subsidies at that time were disastrous. Not that there isn’t or wasn’t an argument for getting rid of them, but that turned to be a rather bad call.

  2. I couldn’t agree more.

    On the plus side, my niece just finished college with a teacher’s certificate and has a job starting in two weeks because of all the teachers that are retiring or quitting over the reopening.

  3. The teachers union’s are loudly declaring that the services their members provide are “nonessential”. Let’s hope that parents and communities listen. Parents will do what is required to see their children educated, and the forced more direct involvement in their childrens education has left many wondering exactly what they have been getting from the public school system.
    Next up: 2nd and 3rd tier colleges financially collapse as costs of “the college campus experience” are increasingly viewed as a waste of time and money; Women’s and Minority Studies majors hit hardest.

  4. Increased federal funding for teachers would be great if the teachers’ unions would allow incompetent teachers to be fired.

    Removing standardized tests is probably for the best because it creates terrible incentives, but we still need to measure how students can think about and handle real-life situations.

    I don’t think that banning school choice would be a good idea because it doesn’t do anything to solve the problem of why people don’t want their kids attending public school in the first place.

    As for removing the police officers from schools… I can see the appeal, but I think for the moment it’d be more important to establish the goals and methods of the officers in the schools, and to figure out how to create a better environment at home for any students who are creating a unsafe school environment (literally and physically). Whatever they’re doing at school, the problem almost certainly didn’t originate from their school life.

    Having police in schools is something you have to transition away from. Making sudden changes has unintended consequences that most people don’t bother foreseeing.

  5. As a public high school teacher, I’m fighting the system (actually, both my wife and I are) to go back to teaching. I teach auto tech, not exactly a subject that lends itself to remote instruction, and she teaches English. We’re facing battles on two main fronts: the entire country/state health system that seems intent on keeping everyone locked up and the teachers union(s) doing the same.

    Ohio has been a roller coaster and at the local and state levels, they do not release a lot of data and play very loose with how things get reported out. This has the local score boards vacillating all over the place as we speak trying to figure out what to do with parents on both sides out protesting to either open schools or stay closed.

    Our local teacher’s association polled the teachers and found that most are scared to return to work, which was not surprising as most fit the liberal definition and get their info from liberal sources. But some of us are making arguments to return to work, especially those of us in career-tech fields that have to have hands-on time with our students. However, the board of education won’t go against the county or state boards of health and allow even a limited return until they get the clearance from above so we’re stuck.

    I don’t think our union would draw a line in the sand if/when we’re able to return to work as we were supposed to start on a hybrid model in a couple of weeks anyway. But if they did object, there are more than a few of us that would less than politely walk on past on our way back into our buildings to get back to work.

    • Good for you and your wife, Guy. I salute you and wish you great success. I also think this is comment of the day worthy. You’re experiencing this first hand and right on the ground. Continued good luck in your admirable efforts.

  6. The second tombstone is insane. A third grade student would be 8, give or take a year for circumstance. The number of kids under 15 that have died from COVID, globally, is less than 100 (The source I saw said 43). The virus does not seem particularly communicable among children, when children do get it, it doesn’t seem to effect them as much.

    This is why every first world democracy other than America is opening schools this fall, with varying degrees of safety precautions. Sweeden’s infection rates are worse than America’s, their schools are opening. I don’t completely understand this move on behalf of American Unions… It’s not a child safety thing, the science we have doesn’t back that up, it’s not a teacher protection thing, the science also does not back that up. It might be a fear thing. The media, in an example of why the “enemy of the people” moniker might not be so poorly placed, has built up a hysteria around COVID that is not even close to healthy, and you can’t reason with terrified. It also might be purely political, this is probably where I shake out. I don’t think the union is acting in teacher’s best interests, I think they’re attempting to build a narrative. That’s not healthy for the long term viability of a union.

    Going on record here again: When the Democrats are forced to reconcile their irreconcilable positions, like the hatred of cops and their hatred of guns, one side wins. We won the second amendment debate, not on the merits of our arguments (although they had merit), but because the left ended up being more afraid of police than they were of guns, and wanted the guns to protect themselves, even though they had previously mocked us for basically the same position.

    The next reconciliation will be the hatred of cops against the love of unions. Unions are going to lose. Unions have been on the outs for more than a decade, they’ve been dead for a while, they just haven’t accepted it yet. It’s coming. The police union first, obviously, and they deserve it. I can’t think of a single redeeming feature of police unions that even comes close to a mitigating factor against the damage they do in protecting people undeserving of protection. If the fear of guns wasn’t enough to bulwark against the left’s rabid hatred of the police, then unions aren’t even going to be a speedbump.

  7. Speaking of Motte and Bailey, . . .

    The various teacher’s unions are HUGE abusers of this technique, where they always fall back to something like “We want what’s best for the children!!!” whenever they put forth any sort of self-serving proposition that has little or nothing to do with children. And unfortunately, no one ever challenges them with a healthy “How exactly is THIS good for the students?”

    This is a great, great example.


    P.S. I predict a future mandate that students wear some form of clear see-through mask, much like the mandate for transparent backpacks. After all, those kids could be making faces at the teacher behind those masks . . . .

    You heard it here first.

  8. Much of the attraction to and impetus for public employee unions would go away if public agencies like education and law enforcement were consistently well-led and effectively managed, and if the improper reach of local politics was kept out of the operational aspects of the work. Having spent over forty years in law enforcement, (none of it in a unionized agency, BTW) I experienced far many more poor administrators and supervisors than good ones. (My sister has been a public school teacher for more than thirty years, also non-union, and her experience parallels mine.)
    I can well remember the days (pre-1984) when many of the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act didn’t apply to most public employees, including law enforcement. When I left home to report for work on my regular shift back then, I never knew when I would be leaving work. I would often be held over to work several more hours or pull a double shift. We were strictly salaried employees, no overtime. My first salary in 1974 was $6,800 per year.
    As police employment, training and promotion standards were increased and salaries improved, there was less movement toward unionization in areas where I worked.
    There is also a sort of “Gresham’s Law” that seems especially evident in public employment with bad employees often driving out the good. I left one employer after ten years when I decided that they just didn’t deserve me any more. I spent the next twenty-seven years with the agency from which I retired.
    I am not an advocate for public sector unions but I understand the conditions that can make them seem useful.

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