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Teachers Rally As Supreme Court Hears Teacher Freedom Case Today

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January 11, 2016
Washington, D.C.

Teachers and parents from around the nation today at 9:00 am will gather outside of the U.S. Supreme Court in support of 10 California teachers as oral arguments are heard in their challenge, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association et al., against the state requirement that they must fund their teacher’s union, even if they aren’t members.

“Paying fees to a union should not be a prerequisite for teaching,” said Jeanne Allen, Founder and President Emeritus of The Center for Education Reform. “Teachers – like all other Americans – should be permitted the freedom to join and choose to pay for the option of joining any organization, union or not.”

The plaintiffs in Friedrichs are asking the High Court to strike down Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, a 1977 case that permitted hundreds of dollars per teacher of “agency fees” to be deducted automatically from teacher paychecks regardless of whether or not they have chosen to be a union member. The 10 teachers in the California Friedrichs case, along with countless of their colleagues nationwide, believe they do not benefit from collective bargaining agreements because not only is it inherently political, but it actually hurts the potential to improve schools.

“Research indicates that next to parents and family, a teacher is the most important influence in a child’s life,” said Allen. “Laws that ensure teachers are rewarded, retained and advanced based on how they perform in adding value to the students who they teach, along with skills and responsibilities, have the potential to recapture and retain our high quality educators who want to be treated as professionals. The political clout behind unions however – with the smaller of the two teacher’s unions, The American Federation of Teachers, contributing $20 million this year’s election cycle – has sadly prevented real change from happening to policies like collective bargaining and agency fees at the state level.”

“This year, workplace freedom may become reality for teachers,” Allen continued, “but the first victory has already been achieved. These courageous teachers have exposed the public to the issue of education union collective bargaining power, something known only outside of education to all but the elite.”

More than fifty percent of the general public do not know how teachers are paid, how they are hired and retained, or that unions are even part of influencing mandates about all aspects of education’s human capital supply.

“Whether one agrees or not with the premise at the heart of the Friedrichs case, with education central to our personal productivity and our global success, we should welcome the controversy and the debate as a pathway to progress,” noted Allen.

The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision at the end of June 2016.