When unions get involved in political debates, it gets ugly fast. For example, the SEIU is known to bus hundreds of protesters to private residences where they stand around people’s houses and denounce the occupants and their employers over megaphones.
But the New York’s United Federation of Teachers has taken things to a whole new level of ugly.
At a convention last month, the UFT’s president Michael Mulgrew gave a speech in support of Common Core and directed a harsh warning to anyone who dared to oppose the program:
“The standards are ours. Tests are ours. We are fighting now because they took tests away…You don’t back down from a fight. They took our standards away from us, we’re going to take them back from them, because that is our tool, we are the teachers…So I stand here in support for [Common Core] for one simple reason. If someone takes something from me, I’m going to grab it right back out of their cold, twisted, sick hand, and say it is mine. You don’t take what is mine. And I’m going to punch you in the face and push you in the dirt!”
Well, that escalated quickly.
What’s more troubling is that the audience, presumably full of public school teachers, applauded the childish rhetoric.
Mulgrew also fails to draw a distinction between his union and teachers as a profession when he says that tests and standards are “ours.” I’m sure that there is a good amount of teachers who don’t think they actually own tests and standards for academic achievement. And plenty of union and nonunion teachers oppose Common Core.
Mulgrew’s militant rhetoric implies that union teachers control every aspect of our kids’ education. If he’s right, then any education reforms have to go through people like him first.
That in and of itself is a case against the existence of powerful teachers’ unions who view standards for academic achievement as their property.
This post is not meant to be a condemnation of all teachers who happen to be union members. There are many teachers who realize that nasty partisanship pervades their unions’ leadership and these teachers should consider joining the Association of America’s Educators, which is a group that offers all the benefits of a teachers’ union with none of the partisanship.
If you’re interested in learning more about an employee’s right to leave their union, click here to learn about National Employee Freedom Week (August 10-16).