Monday, July 30, 2012

Teachers Unions, Impoverished Students, Choice and Vouchers

In the prior post, we commented on sexual predators in the New York classrooms and the complete defense of their awful actions by teachers unions.

Let's move to Louisiana and see how the teachers unions are reacting to a new law supporting allowing poor families to select better schools for their children.

It's another example of what unions really do.

'Whatever Means Necessary' says this about the Louisiana vouchers and the unions' reaction:

"In some parts of the antebellum South, it was illegal to teach blacks how to read. Are teachers unions in Louisiana trying to turn back the clock?

Last week, lawyers for the Louisiana Association of Educators, one of the state's two major teachers unions, threatened private and parochial schools with lawsuits if the schools accept students participating in a new school choice initiative that starts this year. Education reforms signed into law in April by Governor Bobby Jindal include a publicly funded voucher program that allows low-income families to send their children to private or parochial schools.

Teachers unions allege that sending public dollars to nonpublic schools violates the state's constitution, and they are challenging the law in court. A hearing is set for October, but the unions have already lost several court bids to delay the voucher program until the lawsuit plays out. Hence, the bullying.

On Thursday, lawyers representing the unions faxed letters to about 100 of the 119 schools that are participating in the voucher program. "Our clients have directed us to take whatever means necessary," the letter reads. Unless the school agrees to turn away voucher students, "we will have no alternative other than to institute litigation." The letter demanded an answer in writing by the next day.

Louisiana's voucher program is adjusted for family income and is intended above all to give a shot at a decent education to underprivileged minorities, who are more likely to be relegated to the worst public schools. Forty-four percent of Louisiana public schools received a D or F ranking under the state's grading system, and some 84% of the kids in the program come from one of those low-performing schools.

Demand for vouchers has been overwhelming: There were 10,300 applications for 5,600 slots. Despite claims to the contrary by school-choice opponents, low-income parents can and do act rationally when it comes to the education of their children.

State officials have rightly slammed the union's tactics. A spokesman for the Governor said in a statement that union leaders are "stooping to new lows and trying to strong-arm schools to keep our kids from getting a quality education." State Superintendent John White said it was "shameful" that the unions were "trying to prevent people from doing what's right for their children."

The unions claim that vouchers don't benefit students, but we know from school-choice programs in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere that voucher recipients attend safer schools and enjoy higher graduation rates than their peers in public schools.

The real reason that unions oppose vouchers has nothing to do with the impact on students and everything to do with the impact on teachers unions. The Louisiana Association of Educators doesn't want students taught by nonunion teachers—even if that means suing in court to make it illegal for a kid in a failing school to attend another school where he might learn something."

My Take

Seeking and telling the truth is a prerequisite to effective learning.

And if we can't change our mind, we can't change anything else.

Choice is essential to a free society.

Informed citizens are essential to a free society.

A decent education is essential to becoming an informed citizen.

We have free public schools, public school teachers and individual freedoms in a self governing society in order to enhance educational opportunities for our citizens. Our system of "free" public schools is intended to be especially helpful for those families who don't have the means to pay for a quality education on their own.

Why can't parents have choice about their children's educational opportunities?

Why are teachers unions so powerful?

That last question is an easy one to answer.

Teachers unions are joined at the hip with Democratic party politics and use membership dues, fund raising and soliciting votes to keep the status quo Democratic party and union alliance political merry-go-round in good working condition, even as it harms Americans and America.

Thanks. Bob.

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