If you read the earlier post today, you know that I believe the Chicago teachers union as an organization doesn't care about the kids and their parents, the good teachers, the taxpayers or the government officials with whom they bargain. While selected union officials may care as individuals, in their capacity as union leaders, they're in fact paid not to care.
So let's take a few minutes and let me explain why that's the case.
First, unions represent their members. And their members are the teachers, not the kids or other interested parties. Following the money leads us backward from the union salaries to the dues to the teachers to the school district to the taxpayers. Kids aren't in the financial loop.
But if the teacher being represented is a good or perhaps even exceptional teacher, that individual doesn't need the union. If the teacher is a mediocre to bad teacher, that teacher very well may benefit from union representation.
Second, union dues from teachers are used to pay the salaries of union officials. The more members there are, the more union dues that will be collected. For unions it's a game of numbers.
Thus, while good to great teachers don't need union representation and in fact would be better for not having it, unions need the good to great teachers in the fold to maximize total dues collection. By having all teachers as dues paying members, the union is able to make it appear that the union is representing the best interests of the teaching community as a whole, good and bad alike. But that's not true.
Now let's endeavor to answer the question of why good to great teachers would be better served by not having a union represent them. If there are three teachers, one who excels, one who performs at an average level and one who stinks, most rational people would agree that the teacher who excels should be paid more than the teacher who stinks. However, that's not the way unions work. Pay is not dependent on teacher performance or student results but instead on years spent in the classroom and degrees awarded. In our example, all three teachers have taught the same number of years and received the same degrees from college. Hence, they receive the same pay.
Moreover, all three pay the same dues to the union. So what does the union do to earn those dues? Well, in the case of the good to great teacher, nothing. So the dues are in essence payment for nothing. And generally the state laws make it that way with dues collection a requirement for working as a teacher in a union situation.
Accordingly, unions will want to spend money on "friendly" legislation and getting their allies in office. The fact that that is of no benefit to, and even works to the detriment of, good to great teachers doesn't count. They just pay the same dues and receive the exact same compensation as the lousy teachers.
And that, my friends, is why teachers unions don't care about the kids. They care about numbers of members who pay their dues. In other words, they don't represent the interests of the kids, their parents, the taxpayers or the school district as a whole. And they really aren't needed and in fact are often counterproductive. Their very presence works contrary to the best interests of the good to great teachers.
Unions are all about mediocrity and numbers. They exist to protect and preserve mediocrity and therefore work to the benefit of the bad teachers. That's how they make the numbers of dues paying members as big as possible.
And the numbers of dues payers, in addition to the individual dues charged per member, are what determine the amount of money available to the union leaders.
That's my take. If the vast majority of average to good to great teachers could freely choose whether to pay dues or not, unions would disappear quickly.
But that would require new laws, and that's something which union leadership will always strongly oppose. Common sense based legislation and labor contracts based on respecting the rights of the individual teachers, that is.