How would you rate your courage level? On par with suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton or athlete Jesse Owens? Or maybe Martin Luther King, Jr. or Abraham Lincoln? When did the reality of injustices first ignite the passions of these icons? Did they instantaneously have the courage of a lion, or did it grow as resistance to their righteous causes grew?When will the reality of state and national teachers’ unions’ injustices spark your courage?
Do you suppose Elizabeth Cady Stanton started her suffragist work by asking a lot of questions? Ask your union representatives some respectful questions: What are my options as a public employee in regards to union membership? What was the Janus case and how does it affect me? What happens if I choose not to join a union? How do I end current membership? Is it possible to have a union that is unaffiliated with the state and national level union?
Do you suppose Jesse Owens wanted to hold leaders accountable for their actions? Unions are regularly negotiating contract items that aren’t necessarily in teachers’ best interest. It seems teachers rarely read their contract. Who is holding the union accountable? Unions don’t give itemized fiscal reports to their members. What’s happening with your dues? Unions regularly commiserate with state and federal lawmakers. Are the laws in the best interest of teachers and students?
Where would our country be if Martin Luther King, Jr. had not taken a stand for what was right? Are you willing to take a stand for what is right? What if you find the legislative action your union is taking is at odds with what’s best for schools, teachers, kids and parents? The lack of healthy, loving discipline policies that are causing “disrupted learning” is no accident – will you stand against the union’s promotion of lax discipline policies?* The presence of comprehensive sexuality education that is inappropriate for school children cannot be stopped soon enough. Will you take a stand against the union’s promotion of it to defend your students’ innocence?** Discipline policies and so-called “Healthy Youth Acts” (sexuality education) insidiously wound their way through legislatures under the radar of parents and teachers. How is your courage level?
It couldn’t have been easy to be in Abraham Lincoln’s position. It’s not easy to push back against entrenched interests. Dare you suggest the formation of a new, local-only union in your district? Did you know the law gives the right to choose, through a vote, who the exclusive bargainer is for the staff in your district? Most, if not all teachers, who are now working have never had the chance to vote for who represents them. The long-entrenched National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers, along with their state affiliates, have ruled the roost for so long teachers have “forgotten” they have a choice of exclusive bargainer. Given that only the local can sit at the bargaining table, and given that paying only local dues would be much less expensive, why not vote for a change to a new, local-only exclusive bargainer? Do we, teachers, have the courage to change a 40+ year-old status quo?
Empowered teachers are courageous. Got courage?
*Why Meadow Died by Andrew Pollack and Max Eden
**Standing Up to Goliath by Rebecca Friedrichs