Ron DeSantis’s blueprint to dominate teachers’ union bosses

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For too long, public school unions have enjoyed special privileges from states and education systems across America. They negotiate salaries, benefits, and other school policies through the collective bargaining process. They take their funding, the vast share of which is spent on political causes, directly from teacher paychecks. They roll over teacher membership year after year without any action from the teacher.

The devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic opened parents’ eyes to the unions’ abuse of these privileges. Now, leaders like Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida are showing the grit required to take on entrenched interest groups and reduce their unwarranted influence over America’s schools.

Capitalizing on his recent drubbing of pro-teacher union gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist and dozens of anti-education freedom school board candidates, Governor DeSantis announced to Florida school board members and future candidates in December an ambitious “Freedom Blueprint” that would disrupt public K–12 schools’ cozy relationships with unions and restore to teachers the agency to decide whether they wish to join or remain with these unaccountable, ideologically driven interest groups.

If enacted, DeSantis’s proposals would raise teacher pay while stymying union bosses from siphoning these funds out of teachers’ pockets and into their own coffers. Schools would no longer be permitted to fund unions directly out of teachers’ paychecks. Unions would need permission from teachers each year to keep them on their membership roll. To restrain “zombie” unions that no longer enjoy widespread teacher support from terrorizing students and parents, the blueprint would require that unions represent over 50 percent of teachers to engage in collective bargaining with a district.

RON DESANTIS’S ‘FREEDOM BLUEPRINT’ TOUTED BY SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS AS WAY TO ELECT MORE CONSERVATIVE CANDIDATES

DeSantis explained that his proposals would prevent money intended for hardworking teachers from being “frittered away by interest groups.” The blueprint “maximizes freedom to choose” among teachers to decide what to do with the money they earn.

This blueprint could not come at a better time to repel the unprecedented attempts of teacher unions to wrest control of the education system from parents and transform our schools into laboratories of progressive social and cultural experimentation. Union bosses are publicly touting their indoctrination of educators in gender ideology and critical race theory through “professional development” sessions, including “drag queen story hours,” and summer reading lists that force upon children the false choice of becoming an “ally” or an “accomplice” in the culture wars. 

At their annual meetings last year, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)—the two largest national teacher unions—adopted resolutions that, among other things, condemned the ideal of colorblindness as a basis for school policies; attacked state legislation restricting the teaching of gender ideology to young children and preventing biological men who identify as women from participating in women’s athletics; and required the integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) factors in decisions about the investment of teachers’ retirement funds.

My Defense of Freedom Institute for Policy Studies (DFI) report reveals how teacher union bosses are insidiously using the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements—in woke-filled back rooms that avoid public debate and scrutiny—as opportunities to embed their strident political wish lists in school district policies.

Here are just a few examples:

  • The Detroit Federation of Teachers has negotiated with Detroit Public Schools the creation of a “School Equity Lead Supplemental Position,” a qualification for which is completion of a summer “anti-racism” course, to train educators how to teach students in a “culturally responsive” manner—meaning that every teacher must tailor their lesson plans arbitrarily to the perceived ethnicity and culture of each of their students.
  • The Montgomery County, Maryland, school district’s contract with the Montgomery County Education Association requires schools seeking to discipline their students to engage in so-called “restorative practices,” including “mental wellness approaches,” “social skills development,” and “a thoughtful problem-solving approach that focuses on ‘why’ a student may be exhibiting inappropriate behavior(s)”—translating the excessively lenient approach of progressive city prosecutors to the classroom in a way that will inevitably encourage more misbehavior and classroom disruption to the detriment of student learning.
  • Last spring, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers insisted on the inclusion of terms labeled “Protections for Educators of Color” in a deal to end a teacher strike. These provisions illegally and unconstitutionally require the school district, when engaged in layoffs, to fire white teachers before it fires any “member of a population underrepresented among licensed teachers in the District.” The agreement also requires the school district to grant minority educators access to resources and trainings as “additional supports” not granted to white teachers.

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As these and many other collective bargaining agreements outlined in my DFI report reveal, teacher unions no longer resemble the teachers that they supposedly represent, but are now political creatures that perpetuate themselves by feeding on teacher salaries and special privileges from states and school systems. Teachers stand to lose, and lose big, from union-imposed straitjackets dictating their teaching style, narrowing the permissible approaches to classroom discipline, and requiring their attendance at tedious trainings that aim to turn them and their students into “anti-racist” social justice warriors. Reining in teacher union privileges and resources stands to benefit teachers, just as it would enhance the freedom of students and parents to choose the education that is right for them.

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In the face of threats to teaching and learning posed by these powerful special interest groups, governors and legislators across the nation would be wise to xerox Governor DeSantis’s Freedom Blueprint and use it to fight back against teacher union influence over school operations and policies in their home states.

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This post was originally published on Fox News

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