• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Wisconsin Wave Continues: Students’ Interests Overtake Union Demands

    It began in Wisconsin, but it’s not stopping there. When legislators in the Badger State moved to reform unions’ collective bargaining power earlier this year, their action not only stirred movement in their own state but sent a ripple effect across the nation. And it continues to spread.

    As Charles Krauthammer noted in February, “Wisconsin is the epicenter. … When Gov. Scott Walker proposed that state workers contribute more to their pension and health-care benefits, he started a revolution.”

    This revolution has extended to states near and far, including Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, and New Hampshire.

    While much of the debate around the curbing of union power centers on its role in balancing the budgets of debt-laden states, this “revolution” is also profoundly important to promoting critically needed improvements in the nation’s education system.

    This is because for years, unions have stood in the way of necessary reforms aimed at helping students and improving schools while at the same time protecting underperforming teachers. All of this has come at the cost of children’s education. Yet, with power to siphon money out of teachers paychecks—in many states teachers have no choice but to join a union and pay union fees—there really is no need for teachers unions to take into account the academic well-being of students. (Perhaps the late Albert Shanker, former president of the American Federation of Teachers, best summed up their view of children when he stated: “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.”)

    It’s critical that states put control of education back into the hands of those closest to the students—families and schools—instead of continuing to allow unions to call the shots.

    To this end, closely following Wisconsin’s collective bargaining reform, Ohio passed similar legislation that “allows unions to negotiate wages but not health care, sick time, or pension benefits. It gets rid of automatic pay increases and replaces them with merit raises or performance pay.”

    And just last week, neighboring Indiana passed a bill specifically designed to limit union power over schools, prohibiting “contracts between school districts and teachers unions from including anything other than wages and wage-related benefits.” Additionally, “the new law gives local leaders freedom by removing restrictions, such as contracts that limit the number of meetings principals can have with teachers.”

    Indiana State Superintendent of Education Tony Bennett called the passage of the new law a “game-changing moment” for schools.

    Illinois is also moving forward legislation that implements “new requirements for teachers to receive positive evaluations before they’re granted tenure—with the possibility of accelerated tenure for educators with sterling reviews.”

    Similarly, head of Detroit Public Schools Robert Bobb is moving to limit union control, putting in place reforms to limit seniority protection, which often shields ineffective teachers from dismissal.

    Further south, a law is moving through the Tennessee legislature that would similarly limit union control by throwing off unions’ collective bargaining power and providing school boards with the authority to set the standards of employment for teachers.

    Out west, Idaho implemented laws just over a month ago to eliminate teacher tenure and prohibit collective bargaining on salaries and benefits.

    Control of education should belong to those closest to the students, not union leaders. For too long the best interests of students have taken a backseat to the special interests of collective bargaining. But the tide is turning. Starting in the heartland and spreading through the nation, policymakers are moving forward to ensure that when it comes to education, children come first.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Wisconsin Wave Continues: Students’ Interests Overtake Union Demands

    1. Jason Hart, Columbus says:

      The unions will spend millions on sandbags this fall to stop Senate Bill 5 in Ohio. With that in mind, I've put no small amount of energy into informing my fellow Ohioans about the hypocrisy of union bosses who profit mightily from class warfare: http://goo.gl/fb/MNLGi

      If people would realize that it's all about the money for the unions, they wouldn't so willingly accept union talking points!

    2. Pingback: Wisconsin Wave Continues: Students’ Interests Overtake Union Demands

    3. Molly Dow Dillard Or says:

      Idaho has a good Governor, right to work law, and this latest is a giant step forward for education. If you have mney and want to start a business and raise a family, Idaho sounds like the place to go. Oregon is a Green Hell __ no work, just welfare.

    4. Concerned, Mequon WI says:

      Unions have created an incredible amount of lazy workers. I can only hope that students – who are young and inexperienced in the real world – will really understand that we cannot continue on this unsustainable path. Something has to change or they will not be much of a future for them. They'll be taxed to death.

    5. Brian, Michigan says:

      I, for one, would be interested to see how many current union members in Wisconsin decide to leave the union once their dues are no longer automatically deducted from their paycheck.

      • CONSERVATIVE DUDE says:

        Right on. Stopping the automatic deduction is, in a lot of cases, contractual. That needs to be fixed also.
        a

    6. Pingback: Top Six Reasons We Got Osama Bin Laden | The Foundry

    7. Don Harper, Lubbock, says:

      Taxpayer dollars go to teacher salaries reduced by mandatory union dues which go to support Democrat politicians who support more union power. Thus, many taxpayers and teachers are forced to support Liberal politicians with their own money against their will. This is not merely wrong or unfair, it is immoral.

    8. Renny, Maryland says:

      Amen, good direction.Keep the ball rolling in other states. It is hard to comprehend the waist!!!

    9. S. Tarley says:

      Although I no longer have children of school age, I have always been intrested in the education of ALL children. We, as passive adults, have failed the children of this country by throwing money at the broken system. I fought for my children when I knew they might be placed with an inferior teacher. However, most parents today don't attend school board meetings so that they can see the real damage Tenure has done. I am grateful for Gorernor Christy for bringing this issue front and center. We can, and will, do better for the next generatiion

    10. CONSERVATIVE DUDE says:

      I am not anti-union , I am anti-ineffective Union. It is not right for anyone to pay to get or keep a job. I am for right-to-work.. The Unions do not deserve to be recognized! They do not help to move the ball forward.
      a

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×