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Big Labor Wants to Teach Us a Lesson

Progressives and those on the extreme left probably don’t worry about unions pushing labor history courses in their kids’ schools. But the rest of us should. The reason I say that is because many of these repeated efforts to include “labor history” into a school’s curriculum come from people who may not be able or willing to give students both sides of the story, considering the fact that many teachers are also union members. This represents a conflict of interest: a teacher who is a union member (especially in heavily Democratic states like Connecticut and Illinois) may whitewash labor history by leaving out details that matter to those who aren’t predisposed to buying union propaganda hook, line, and sinker. For example, I’m very skeptical that a unionized Wisconsin teacher can give students a fair assessment of Act 10, which cut back on privileges for public sector unions, including teachers’ unions. Act 10 has also saved the state $2 billion annually and helped to balance state and local budgets, which had been hurt by the recession. Needless to say, union members view Act 10 as controversial at best. (One has to wonder if the only reason it is called “controversial” is because it cut down public sector union privileges.) All that being said, I’m not opposed to labor history being taught in schools; I’m just opposed to labor history being taught by people who exclusively identify with one side of the labor history debate. History was one of my majors during my undergrad and I came to appreciate history as a discipline that often disappoints the glamorous expectations of its students. In order to convey this reality, the teacher of history must go to great lengths to make sure their biases do not obscure their communication of the historical record. I’m convinced that teachers’ unions are not willing to teach history fairly and set their biases aside when they do things like withhold federal ERRP funds from school districts that choose not to use their health care insurance provider. But it’s not just my suspicions in and of themselves that constitute an argument for why Big Labor should stay out of the classroom because my suspicions were confirmed when the Department of Labor put the works of communist and socialist authors on its reading list! Big Labor cannot be trusted to adequately teach the true history of America’s labor movement and parents should resist any union proposals to teach their kids labor history. Such proposals would surely lead to indoctrination, not education.