Teachers' Unions in Action

Two recent WSJ articles -- ironically, appearing on the same day -- remind us anew of the complete cynicism and utter immorality of the teachers' unions.

The first is about the vicious fight that the Louisiana Association of Educators (LEA), one of the major rent-seeking rat-packs -- oh, pardon me, I meant to say "teachers' unions" -- in the state.  The LEA is outraged -- outraged! -- that Gov. Bobby Jindal was able to pass a school choice initiative starting this year that creates a modest (5,600-student capacity) voucher system for poor kids to attend private (including parochial) schools.  The LEA is pursuing a lawsuit in the state court system, asking that the voucher plan be ruled unconstitutional for violating the separation of church and state.

The courts have refused to delay the voucher system until the trial in October.  And since the issue has already been settled by the U.S. Supreme Court -- no, a district giving a voucher directly to the parent, who then chooses to use it at a religious school, does not constitute state support of religion -- the LEA is getting nasty.

In fact, the LEA is now in full attack mode.  Its lawyers faxed threatening notices to 100 of the 119 schools in the voucher program, warning them that their clients (the union thugs) intend to use "whatever means necessary" to make the schools bar voucher students.

"By any means necessary" -- BAMN, as it is known to devotees of radical causes -- is code language for confrontational action, including violence if necessary.

The LEA will start by suing all 100 schools, many of them small private schools catering to poor children.  The LEA, flush with fat union dues, is well-positioned to legally harass these schools, whose resources are limited.

You can see why the LEA is panicked: its members support failure in school so long as it lines their pockets, and they know that the public is beginning to realize that school choice is a necessary precondition to K-12 school reform.

And, brother, does Louisiana need school reform.  Forty-four percent of its public schools are given a D or F by its own grading system, and no doubt that system has low standards to begin with.

The parents know this, which is why there were 10,300 applications for the vouchers, with 84% of those students being from schools ranked D or F.

In fine, the LEA is using all the muscle it has to destroy the lives of children, the vast majority of whom are minority children.  This is despicable.

Turning next to New York, there is the depressing news that the New York teachers' unions (including one of the most powerful, the United Federation of Teachers) are working diligently to shield members accused of sexual crimes.

Specifically, nearly a hundred tenured teachers or other public school employees have been charged by the Department of Education with various sex crimes, including one teacher who had sex with a 13-year-old girl and an assistant principal who asked a young girl if she would give him oral sex.

But while in private industry, perps would be summarily fired and face the justice system (or else the business would be on the firing line), in New York they just appear before a school investigation panel, an independent law firm, or a local school superintendent.  After that, the perp goes before an arbitrator selected -- get this! -- by the teachers' union and the school district jointly.  The arbitrators, by the way, get paid $1,400 a day.  You don't have to be a public choice economist to realize that, to please the unions, these arbitrators will likely be inclined to fine or suspend the teachers rather than fire them.

For example, one perp who repeatedly hugged girls, including fondling one poor girl's breasts, was suspended for six months.  Another fine fellow was only reprimanded for "inappropriate touching" of a number of young boys.  A third randy shaper of young minds, who repeatedly texted sex messages to girls -- including asking one to perform a striptease for him -- was merely suspended.

A New York state senator has introduced legislation to terminate the arbitrators' "final say," but it is doubtful that the teachers' unions will allow such a measure to pass.  After all, in New York, the teachers' unions virtually own the state legislature.

This is beyond despicable -- it is downright degenerate.  Memo to the "rationally ignorant" voters: these are your tax dollars at work, and the system is destroying your children.

Philosopher Gary Jason is a senior editor of Liberty and the author of the book Dangerous Thoughts (available through Amazon).

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