Teacher Union Activists Expressly Refuse to Focus on
This summer, roughly 6,000 National Education Association
union operatives and activists, having gathered in Houston for their highly
political organization’s annual convention, considered a host of non-binding
resolutions directing the NEA as a whole to take certain actions.
Out of the more than 160 such “business items” proposed this
year, a motion pledging that the NEA would “re-dedicate itself to the pursuit
of increased student learning,” might have seemed to an outside observer to be
the least likely of all to meet with any opposition.
No One Should Be Surprised By Anti-Learning Vote
As education-policy specialists Nat Malkus and R.J. Martin
noted in a post-convention commentary for the American Enterprise Institute,
the resolution exhorting the NEA to make “the development of students as
lifelong reflective learners” its “priority” contained “no obvious poison
Nevertheless, the NEA convention delegates unceremoniously
“Anyone who has even a passing familiarity with how teacher
union bosses across America operate understands that NEA officials’ agenda is
bound to conflict with the best interest of schoolchildren,” said National
Right to Work Committee Vice President John Kalb.
“Of course, some people might suppose the union brass would
at least be worried about the PR consequences of openly acknowledging that the
NEA hierarchy doesn’t protect the interests of schoolchildren.
“But teacher union delegates’ bald-faced rejection in July
of the notion that student learning should be their ‘priority’ is not
Interests of Talented, Hard-Working Teachers Are Also
More than 40 years ago, appearing on ABC News Closeup,
the president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT/AFL-CIO) sent
basically the same message to the public that the convention of the U.S.’s
other nationwide teacher union conveyed in July.
In a broadcast airing on May 27, 1976, Al Shanker, who
headed the AFT from 1974 until his passing in 1997, said:
“I don’t see a voice for students in the bargaining process;
I think it’s one of the facts of life . . . . It’s very much like a strike,
let’s say, or negotiations in the private sector. The consumer, basically, is
Mr. Kalb commented: “Effectively, Mr. Shanker believed that
the interests of schoolchildren are ‘left out’ of the process, now mandated by
law in more than 30 states, in which union officials act as teachers’
monopoly-bargaining agents, and that it’s pointless to worry about that,
because it’s a ‘fact of life.’
“And schoolchildren aren’t the only people whose interests
are ‘left out’ of the monopoly-bargaining process.
“The interests of many talented and hardworking teachers
also get shortchanged.
“It is thanks largely to the impact of monopolistic unionism
that school systems across the country, in the words of Obama Education
Secretary Arne Duncan, ‘pay teachers billions of dollars each year for earning
credentials that do very little to improve the quality of teaching.’
“Meanwhile, as Mr. Duncan further noted, ‘many schools give
nothing at all to the teachers who go the extra mile to make a difference in
Today, there is not even one of the 50 states where
education policymaking is free from the inordinate influence of teacher union
However, thanks in large part to the persistent and
determined lobbying efforts of Right to Work members and supporters, 15 states
have refused to impose mandatory union bargaining over teachers’ pay, benefits,
and work rules.
North Carolina, Virginia Statutes Prohibit All Government-Sector
“For decades, with the National Committee’s leadership,
Right to Work members have successfully opposed Big Labor schemes to repeal or
gut the state statutes in North Carolina and Virginia that expressly prohibit
any government-sector bargaining,” noted Mr. Kalb.
“An additional 13 states do not currently have and have
never had a court decision, statewide statute, or constitutional provision
forcing K-12 public school employers to engage in any form of bargaining with
“And according to a carefully documented 2018 study for the
Cato Institute, states that expressly prohibit or at least do not statutorily
authorize monopoly bargaining in K-12 public education typically do a better
job of educating schoolchildren at a more reasonable cost to taxpayers.”