“When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children,” American Federation of Teachers (AFT) founder Al Shanker once told a rollicking auditorium of teachers. With that quote he locked his name into “union thuggery” infamy.
He was the first in a long line that recognized that it’s about money and power, not children.
Teachers unions aren’t “kids unions” now, are they? And looking out for children should be a parent’s job, not the unions. So I suggest there is little wrong for a teachers union to do what it’s supposed to, which is: Look out for the best interest of their membership. Not kids. Not parents. But teachers.
Therefore, one would expect the teachers unions to rush to oppose the federal poke in the eye to teachers and parents that the government has given the Orwellian name “Common Core Standards” (CCS). CCS is No Child Left Behind 2.0, with a side order of data collection on children, invasion of privacy, dumbing down, teaching to the test, and so many other missteps of education reformers that it has both liberals and conservatives throwing up a little in their mouths.
Ok, maybe a lot.
Common Core Standards add more government regulations to public school classrooms, and restrict teachers in private schools and homeschooling. It also changes GED requirements and aligning the SAT and ACT. Common Core, ladies and gentlemen, isn’t just socialism. It is Communism with a big “C” minus. And just like in any run-of-the-mill-communistic-education-bureaucracy, Common Core hamstrings teacher innovation and creativity by emphasizing one-size-fits-all government-standards over teaching effectiveness.
So where do the unions stand on the issue? Well since it’s about money and power, then you guessed it–on the wrong side.
The unions have thrown their teacher members under the school bus. They cashed out on their credibility and proven once and for all, they are not about children, or teachers, but about the money and the power it brings the bureaucracy. Teachers unions, as it ironically turns out are the epitome of “corporate greed.” Or should we just call it for what it is? The worst type: government power mongering greed. Garden variety corporate greed would be kind of promotion after all.
The National Education Association (NEA) was paid $550K by the Gates Foundation to “aid collaboration for Common Core Standards. Since then the NEA has promptly fallen in line by voting to sanctify Common Core. And joined with the AFT in solidarity, the NEA is a co-recipient of a $11 million grant by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, “to jointly design tools and digital applications to support teachers in their practice.” Yes, Leona Helmsley–the lady who once said “only little people paid taxes”–is now paying to play with unions in education reform even though she died five years ago.
NEA Today has tried to chocolate dip their betrayal of teachers by touting six reasons Common Core is good for students (listed below with author response–sarcasm included for free):
1. Common Core Puts Creativity Back in the Classroom
Yes, if you find teaching to online-only multiple-choice government tests creative. You too can enjoy the innovative working environment similar to the IRS.
2. Common Core Gives Students a Deep Dive
Agreed. Achievement and joy of learning will plummet. Common Core Standards have 1st graders reading Orwell’s “Animal Farm” along a lesson of Russian Revolution with their language teachers. That’s first graders. International History studies? With a language teacher? Have you read Russian history? It’s often boring to people who like it.
3. Common Core Ratchets up Rigor
Common Core lowers the rigor bar below No Child Left Behind. James Milgram: Stanford and NASA mathematician; served on official common core validation committe and refused to sign off on the academic legitimacy of the Common Core because per these standards U.S. students would be 2 years behind international peers by 7th grade.
4. Common Core is Collaborative
Of course it is! It takes a lot of collaboration to make sure everyone is falling behind the official Party line.
5. Common Core Advances Equity
And some teachers are more equal than others.
6. Common Core Gets Kids College Ready
Really? January 2, 2014, the current GED test will be replaced by a fully aligned paper-less Common Core version that costs nearly twice as much and few know how to use. “The new test is expected to be more difficult for students to pass, and broad unfamiliarity with it among test preparers has Lee Weiss, director of GED Programs for Kaplan Test Prep, recommending that those who can take the GED before it changes.” Several states will no longer offer GED.
Clearly, teachers just got Shanghaied by their union who say Common Core isn’t just good for them- they should like it. They better like it. Or else.
The good news is that parents have known this about unions long ago, and ready to do what the NEA and AFT are not willing to do: Stand up for teachers.
Thousands of parents are aligning themselves arm in arm with educators, public, private, and homeschool alike, ready to defend teachers AND children–no member dues required. Most parents don’t care about the opinion of teachers unions.
We know that quality education hinges on a good parent-teacher-student partnership and not defined by organizations or government bureaucracy.
This is indeed a defining moment for teachers unions across America. With an estimated income of $155,400,000* a month from teachers’ dues, the unions stand to lose big if teachers find that parents, not unions, are their most loyal allies.
Perhaps this is what AFT’s Shanker was referring to when in his 1985 speech to AFT QuEST Conference said: “It’s dangerous to let a lot of ideas out of the bag, some of which may be bad. But there’s something that’s more dangerous, and that’s not having any new ideas at all at a time when the world is closing in on you.”
Parents are closing in and the unions are out ideas; it’s only money they have.
*Based on 2011 number of teachers 70% guesstimate union membership multiplied by AFT Colorado’s modest $60 per month membership cost