Oregon Teacher Union Bosses Get Volunteer Band Director Banished ‘For the Good of the Kids’

Across the U.S., thousands and thousands of civic-minded Americans with valuable knowledge and skills volunteer to share them with public schoolchildren in their communities.  Typically, there is no legal requirement that such volunteer educators have full teaching credentials, and schoolchildren often report that they learn more from “uncredentialed” volunteers than they do from fully-credentialed professionals.

But volunteers’ participation in K-12 public education almost always represents a burr under the saddle of teacher union bosses in states without Right to Work laws, because volunteers cannot be forced to pay union dues or fees in order to share their knowledge and skills with schoolchildren.

Katherine Mangu-Ward reported last week on the Reason magazine blog about a recent case in which union bigwigs in Gold Beach County, Ore., enlisted the state Teachers Standards and Practices Committee to force out a volunteer band director despite the fact that “parents and students were pleased with her work.”  Click the link below to see the whole story:

Lenie Duffy taught in California for nine years with full credentials and continued to volunteer in local schools for 15 years after she formally left teaching, as pianist for a school choir and then as band director after the previous director had a heart attack.

Despite the fact that parents and students were pleased with Duffy’s work—she was recently nominated as the town’s “volunteer of the year”—the teachers union filed a complaint about Duffy with the state Teacher Standards and Practices Commission. The commission ruled against Duffy and she was forced out.

The kids took to their social media of choice, Facebook, condemning the teacher’s union with harsh, sometimes obscene, language. On the afternoon they were supposed to report to the school library instead of the band room, they staged a mass sit-in on the concrete steps that led to the band room. The local newspaper went wild with letters of complaint from parents and community members.

The union reps went on damage control. Their goal, they insisted, was not to hurt the kids. They told the local volunteer choir director, whose class they had also forced into cancellation, that they did it “for the good of the kids,” arguing that only credentialed teachers should be allowed to teach children

This story comes courtesy of Backwoods Home Magazine, where Duffy has worked a day job as a business manager for many years. The magazine stepped up to save the day: 

Backwoods Home Magazine decided to help the kids fight back against the teacher’s union. I and BHM’s Senior Editor John Silveira, Ad Manager Jeff Ferguson, and Technology Manager Al Boulley moved out of our offices and made room for a “band room.” The band reformed itself into an off-campus club, just like the high school golf club BHM sponsors. In fact, the golf club subsequently held an emergency meeting and agreed to donate $1,000 (nearly half of its funds) to the band to show its support. The band relocated to the BHM building and now practices there as a club, free from any further threat from the teacher’s union. They will lose the half credit they should have earned for the semester, but they will still get to put on their scheduled concerts and compete at the District Festival.

Scrappy High School Band Survives Attempted Murder by Local Teachers Union