Why Public Opinion is Turning on Teachers’ Unions

Teachers and Their UnionsGil Spencer of the Delaware County Times penned a perceptive column yesterday on the waning popularity of teachers’ unions—and how an angry public is wising up to the unions’ political and self-serving ways. Spencer noted how teachers in Neshaminy went on strike this week (yet again), only to have exhausted and outraged taxpayers pelt them with eggs and fruit. He adds:

Given the choice between cutting teachers and cutting their benefits, many teachers’ unions are forcing districts to lay off their younger colleagues. They’d rather protect their own gold-plated health care plans and pensions than smaller class sizes, educational programs and teaching jobs.

As it becomes clearer and clearer what the teachers’ unions value most—and it isn’t other people’s children—support for them is dropping.

According to a national survey recently conducted by Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance, those who claim to believe that teachers’ unions have a positive effect on education dropped 22 percent this year.

Worse, the number of teachers themselves who claimed to have a positive view of their unions dropped 15 percent from 58 percent to 43 percent.

The latest example of perverse priorities and politicking? Our biggest teachers’ union, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, plowed $21,000 of teachers’ member dues into Wisconsin (yes, Wisconsin). The contribution was to aid in the unsuccessful recall of Gov. Scott Walker, whose reforms on government unions have erased the state’s budget deficit and revitalized the Badger State.

The PSEA remains just as active in Pennsylvania, spending a dizzying $4.2 million on political activities and lobbying in 2009-10, and a further $2.3 million on electing their preferred legislative candidates. The PSEA consistently opposes the school choice and effective education reform that families want, despite the tragic plight of students facing a violent act in our worst public schools every 17 minutes. With their political agenda working against children, taxpayers and the very teachers unions claim to protect, teachers’ unions are deservedly losing the public’s goodwill—and that is a good thing for Pennsylvania.