More and more parents are exercising choice in their selection of education for their children. In North Carolina, removal of charter school caps, creation of vouchers, and expansion of programs for special needs children have resulted in almost 20% of school children enrolled in a school other than public schools. Public school enrollment has dropped over 5% since 2010 as an increasing number of parents are seeking alternatives to public education.
However, what about the teachers? Teachers are limited in their opportunities due to local public school monopolies. School policies are often dictated at the state level so changing districts doesn’t drastically change work rules. Under union rules, excellent teachers are often not rewarded due to merit but primarily due to experience, i.e. length of service in the system. Moreover, curricula such as Common Core are dictated by the bureaucracy. If the teachers want to teach differently than the methods prescribed by the administration, experimentation is limited.
It is often elected Democrat school board members who adopt such repressive policies. Left wing non-profits and academic think tanks introduce “progressive” curriculum proposals, such as “sex assigned at birth”, and then it is their fellow travelers on the school board that implement such policies. This social experimentation is occurring in Fairfax County, Virginia despite vociferous opposition to such policies among the public running roughly ten-to-one against.
What if a teacher objects to such policies? Until recently, a teacher opting out from a union still had to pay the union fees (or dues) in some states. The Supreme Court had deemed that a teacher derived a benefit from the union so had to pay at least some fees. But if a teacher is a conscientious objector to such union policies, he/she now has an option. The recent Supreme Court Janus vs. AFSCME, No. 16-1466, 585 U.S. ___ (2018) decision prohibits the compulsory seizure of agency fees by public sector unions, including teacher unions. Thus, if a teacher is able to purchase professional liability insurance independent of the union, then the teacher can opt out of the union and not be forced to pay agency fees.
Teachers unions primarily support Democratic Party politicians so cutting off this compulsory funding of Democratic Party School Board candidates may end the social experimentation currently being conducted by the 10-2 Democratic Party school board majority in Fairfax County, Virginia. Opting out of the union not only deprives the union of funds but may actually return the union to protecting teachers’ interests instead of funding and enacting Democrat Policy prerogatives.