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Students Abandoned: A Timeline of Teachers Unions in 3 Pictures

August 4, 2020

by Matt Beienburg
August 4, 2020

In just 18 months, the abandonment of students by America’s teachers unions has been swift and total:

January 2019

 Teachers unions promise that they’re organizing strikes for students.

Most of the 2018-2019 teacher strikes across the U.S. were aimed at securing pay increases and ratcheting up overall K-12 spending—ostensibly in the name of improving long-term student learning.  (Of course some strikes, like West Virginia’s in 2019, had nothing even to do with these goals and simply sparked from union opposition to offering kids access to alternatives like charter schools and education savings accounts.)

At this stage in 2019, however, unions at least still preached a concern for students and justified their actions through a supposedly indirect benefit to kids.

July 2019

America’s largest teachers union stops even pretending to have kids’ best interests at heart.

At the 2019 Representative Assembly of the National Education Association (NEA), the union’s delegates voted down a proposed resolution that called on the organization to “rededicate itself to the pursuit of increased student learning in every public school in America by putting a renewed emphasis on quality education” and “make student learning the priority of the Association.”  

Yet at the same time, the union delegates found it appropriate to vote for 72 other resolutions, ranging from condemnations of U.S. foreign policy to demands for racial reparations and allowing abortion all the way up to the point of birth.

July 2020

Teachers unions declare they don’t even want to teach students anymore, in person, or online

The same teachers union featured in picture 1 above—supposedly on strike for their students back in 2019—decided to hold hostage the reopening of schools amid union demands for various political pet projects—like the defunding of police and the capping of charter schools.  Now, even as they refuse to educate students themselves, they are seeking to block families from accessing learning opportunities in other forms like charters, microschools, “pandemic pods,” and education savings accounts.  (Parents, see here for a great video primer on these if you’re looking for a solution for your kids’ education this fall).

Union members, like Americans more broadly should not be forced into unsafe environments against their will. But neither should students and families be held captive to a system that openly treats them as an afterthought.

Matt Beienburg is the Director of Education Policy at the Goldwater Institute. He also serves as director of the Institute’s Van Sittert Center for Constitutional Advocacy. 



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