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Why I'm Fighting My Teachers' Union

"I was a member of the union for years and even served as a union representative. But the union never played an important role in my school. When most teachers sought guidance, they wanted help in the classroom and on how to excel at teaching. The union never offered this pedagogic aid."

"Instead, the union focused on politics. I remember a phone call I received before a major election from someone in the union. It was a “survey,” asking teachers whether they would vote for so-and-so if the election were held tomorrow. I disagreed with every issue and candidate the union was promoting. After that conversation, I thought about what the union represents. Eventually, I realized that my dues—about $1,000 a year—went toward ideas and issues that ran counter to my beliefs."

As some of the largest special interest groups in the nation, teachers' unions are advancing their own political agenda within local, state, and national politics. Membership is implicitly compulsory, at the risk of losing benefits, and therefore some teachers become stuck supporting unions who are giving their money to candidates and causes with whom they do not agree. This raises a significant question: should unions be able to force teachers to pay dues against their will? It's an issue which the Supreme Court may soon be deciding.

by Harlan Elrich, math teacher, Sanger Unified School District

The Wall Street Journal l January 3, 2015


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