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Teachers’ Unions Win a Defensive Victory

by Mike Antonucci
November 2012

I toyed with the idea of writing an entire blog post this morning on how the GOP recaptured the Wisconsin state senate, since NEA seemed to think control of that chamber was such a big deal back in June, but I won’t be (such) a wise-ass.

The unions did what they needed to do. They helped re-elect the President and they brought to a halt any momentum there may have been for more serious and wide-ranging threats to their power base. They defeated hostile ballot measures in California, Florida, Idaho, Michigan and South Dakota, and were even able to put a tax hike over the top in the Golden State. There will be no mass movement into voucher systems, merit pay, tenure reform and collective bargaining limits. Those are big wins.

From a practical standpoint, however, we have the same President, the same Secretary of Education, virtually the same Senate composition, virtually the same House composition, virtually the same split of governorships, and virtually the same split of state legislatures. And unlike 2008, there is no prospect of card check, stimulus packages and edujobs bills on the horizon.

Where NEA and AFT tried to gain ground, they experienced very tough sledding. They couldn’t get tax hikes for education passed in South Dakota or Arizona. They failed to enshrine collective bargaining in the Michigan constitution. Spread thin, they couldn’t stop charter initiatives in Georgia or Washington. It’s too soon to evaluate the effect of all the state legislative races, but nothing indicates an ideological shift toward renewed public sector hiring – the only thing that can replenish union membership.

In short, the unions drove the barbarians from the gates, but not across the border. NEA and AFT spent a lot of money to ensure another four years like the last four. Is

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Save the Status Quo, March Against Freedom

By now, you’ve likely heard that the anti-reform establishment will be marching the streets of D.C. this weekend in an effort to “Save Our Schools.” The participating groups want to restore parent and student influence in education.

There’s only one problem with that – they don’t.

The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers – two unions that have done everything in their power from distorting the truth and lying to intimidation and lawsuits to stop any reform that takes their control and gives it to parents – are driving this rally.

These groups fight charter school openings across the country. For example they are currently stumping against a Mandarin immersion charter in Milburn, New Jersey.

They’ve sued multiple times to stop or delay school choice bills from taking effect. The teachers association now has a lawsuit in Indiana to stop low-income students in failing schools from using a voucher to attend a different school of their parent’s choice.

They are even fighting the “Parent Trigger” law that was passed in California and allows parents to initiate changes to a school, like converting it to a charter, if a majority of parents agree and sign a petition.

It’s the same coalition of the past 35 years that just wants the status quo. Reform to them is about money, control and no high-stakes tests or accountability.

In each case above, and the dozens of ones not mentioned, these groups are eliminating the influence parents and students have, not moving it forward.


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