Teacher Strikes Hold Students, and Unwilling Teachers, Hostage
Lowman S. Henry, in the Patriot-News, takes teacher union officials to task for their hypocritical stance on education grants, “. . . using public school students as a political bargaining chip,” when this is what PSEA officials do every time they call a strike.” Unwilling teachers are also forced to kowtow to the unions’ demands, or suffer from crossing a picket line. With a Right to Work Law in place in Pennsylvania, these teachers would be able to resign their membership in case of a strike, instead of being forced to do union officials’ bidding.
One of the most common rhetorical techniques used by politicians to disguise the true nature of a proposed policy is to give legislation a name implying something totally different. For example, the health reform measure popularly known as Obamacare is officially entitled the Affordable Health Care Reform Act of 2010. It is about government control, not health care; and the results have been anything but affordable.
So it was that the president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association – which is really a teacher union, not an education association – audaciously claimed that: “Using public school students as a political bargaining chip is a bad idea.” Mike Crossey was talking about Gov. Tom Corbett’s plan to dedicate new revenue generated by the privatization of the state’s antiquated liquor store system to grants for public education.
The PSEA bludgeons local school boards, taxpayers and parents by going out on strike if they don’t get what they want in contract negotiations. The degree to which students are held hostage is evidenced by the fact that Pennsylvania perennially leads the nation in the number of teacher strikes. If Mr. Crossey and the labor union he leads truly were appalled at the thought of using students as bargaining chips, they would support legislation aimed at making teacher strikes in Pennsylvania illegal.
Not only does the PSEA hold the threat of strikes over the heads of taxpayers, but they force taxpayers to subsidize the collection of union dues via payroll deduction. This adds administrative cost to school district budgets, dollars which could otherwise be dedicated to student education. If Mr. Crossey and the labor union he leads truly were appalled at the thought of using students as bargaining chips, they would collect their own dues rather than have taxpayers foot the bill.
Lowman S. Henry is chairman and CEO of the Lincoln Institute in Harrisburg.