From the National Right to Work Committee Newsletter, June, 2020
When Big Labor Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) shuttered K-12 public schools across California on March 13, he promised schoolchildren, parents and taxpayers that meaningful education would be offered, for as long as school buildings were closed, through online classes. But regardless of what Mr. Newsom intended, the sweeping monopoly privileges that California law accords to teacher union bosses rendered his promise altogether unkeepable. In the weeks that followed, government union bigwigs demanded and obtained deals, including a host of provisions that benefit primarily educators who care little whether their students learn or not and serve mostly to undermine conscientious educators. For example, at the beginning of April, San Diego Education Association (SDEA/NEA/AFL-CIO) union President Kisha Borden secured a deal under which, according to an account by San Diego Union-Tribune education reporter Kristen Taketa, teachers may not be required “to work more than four hours a day.”
That includes “instruction, prep time and staff meetings.” Of course, even though the required work hours are being drastically cut this spring for unionized teachers in San Diego and the vast majority of other school districts in California, pay and benefits are continuing as usual. Another provision included in the post- COVID-19 union pact in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD), as well as other school districts in California and across the U.S., states that no student may receive a lower final grade for doing poor work, or failing to do any work, after schools were shuttered!
If Internet Instruction Doesn’t Count, Why Should Kids Bother to Show Up? In the “memorandum of understanding” between SDEA bosses and the SDUSD, the lack of accountability explicitly extends to teachers, as Ms. Taketa explained: “Like students, teachers also will be ‘held harmless,’ meaning they won’t be evaluated or disciplined based on how they provide distance learning or the quality of their instruction during this time”!
Some government union bosses take an even more radical stance in favor of holding students “harmless” for taking advantage of the COVID-19 shutdowns by doing little or no schoolwork. For example, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU/AFT) boss Jesse Sharkey declared in a screed penned in mid-April that it’s “just plain cruel” and “wrong to assign letter grades” for any work completed at any time this school semester. And the San Francisco Chronicle has reported that school union bosses in the City by the Bay support giving all students A’s, regardless of performance. While some teachers undoubtedly do regard what amounts to a paid extended vacation for themselves, at taxpayers’ expense, as a benefit, many teachers who are trying to make the best of a bad situation detest the regime put in place at union bosses’ behest. For an April 12 article in the Chronicle regarding the “lack of teaching at many schools” during the coronavirus closures, staff writer Jill Tucker spoke with Oakland Technical High School English teacher Brennan Nicholas. Mr. Nicholas told Ms. Tucker he was seeing fewer than half of his students show up for online classes because they know “grading won’t be punitive.” “The word has circulated that they’re not really going to be held accountable,” said Mr. Nicholas.
Inordinate Influence of Teacher Union Bosses Is A Nationwide Problem National Right to Work Committee Vice President Mary King commented: “The interests of talented, hard-working teachers, along with the interests of concerned parents and schoolchildren who want to learn, are routinely shortchanged by government union bosses. “Big Labor’s cynical exploitation of COVID-19 school shutdowns to advance its anti-education agenda is just the latest example. And today there is not even one of the 50 states where education policymaking is free from the inordinate influence of teacher union bosses. “However, thanks in large part to the persistent and determined lobbying efforts of Right to Work members and supporters, 15 states have refused to mandate union monopoly bargaining over teachers’ pay, benefits, and work rules. “And according to a carefully documented 2018 study for the Cato Institute, states that expressly prohibit or at least do not statutorily authorize union monopoly bargaining in K-12 public education typically do a better job at educating schoolchildren at a more reasonable cost to taxpayers.”