I believe the teaching profession is a noble one and that goes without saying. However, what is lost on many is that the unions who represent teachers are anything but noble. Consider this remark by Albert Shanker, who was the national leader of the teachers’ union in America for some 30 years. He said, “When school children start paying dues, that is when I will start representing the interests of school children”. The union movement today would like to dispute whether Shanker ever actually admitted this publically, but what they can’t do is refute numerous instances of teachers and teachers’ unions failing to keep our kids safe from sexual predators in the classroom.
Recently, Congress passed a bill, introduced by Democrats, that would require a background check for government school employment applicants and bar anyone who has been convicted of a serious felony, e.g., murder, rape, and spousal abuse, from being hired. It also would bar school districts from transferring workers guilty of sexual misconduct with minors from being transferred to another location. Unfortunately, union opposition in the Senate is blocking the legislation from moving forward.
In another case, a teacher who ultimately confessed to having sexually abused a young boy in his class was sentenced to four years in prison. To everyone’s shock and dismay, investigators revealed that the other teachers at the school refused to cooperate with investigators and prosecutors. Moreover, 22 teachers actually wrote to the judge expressing support for the teacher while expressing zero support for the abused child.
All of this reminded me of the case here in California where a bill that sailed through the State Senate hit a roadblock in the State Assembly with no small thanks to Assemblyman Das Williams. Again, this case had to do with the inability of school districts to fire teachers suspected of sexual child abuse. There is a cadre of disgraced teachers throughout this state that have not been fired because school districts are afraid of being sued for wrongful termination! Many of them are still getting paid despite the fact that they have not actually worked in years. Pathetically, in some cases, we resolve this standoff by paying a settlement to the abuser to get them to tender their resignation!
An old pastor friend of mine used to say that when he eats chicken, he spits out the bones. What he meant by saying this is that there can be good things and bad things mixed together in our everyday lives and for our own well-being we must exercise discernment of what we swallow whole and that which we must throw out. I think of this aphorism when I think of teachers and teachers’ unions.
Our society would be better off if we recognized that supporting teachers in the classroom is a different matter altogether than deferring to the political agenda of the unions. Individually, teachers deserve our admiration and respect, but the unions that represent them and the politicians who do their bidding, deserve nothing but scorn.
First Published in the Santa Barbara News Press
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