| September 19, 2012

‘Why should the state keep propping up the unions?’

According to a recent survey conducted on behalf of Harvard University’s Program on Education Policy and Governance and the journal Education Next, only 22 percent of Americans think teachers’ unions have a positive effect on schools.

These findings are consistent with the results of a 2010 SoonerPoll survey, which asked Oklahomans: “Which view comes closer to your own: ‘Teachers’ unions help make schools better’ or ‘Teachers’ unions are an obstacle that keeps schools from getting better’”? Only 25 percent of respondents said unions help make schools better, while 55 percent said they were an obstacle.

I can’t imagine the Chicago strikers are doing much to help with the unions’ popularity problem.

Here at home, with center-right politicians now in the driver’s seat at 23rd & Lincoln, you might think Oklahoma’s largest teachers’ union would try to adapt gracefully to the new realities. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. As Stacy Martin reports at CapitolBeatOK (“Teachers’ union dumps its ‘common ground’ lobbyist”):

Oklahoma’s largest teachers’ union, the Oklahoma Education Association, recently forced out lobbyist Daniela Newville because her lobbying style was inconsistent with union’s aggressive, liberal politics, says a top state education department official.

“They forced her out because she had developed good relationships with both sides of the aisle,” said Joel Robison, chief of staff for Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi, and former top lobbyist for the OEA. …

He said the union had become increasingly strident with its one-party philosophy and viewed its own lobbyists with suspicion when they tried to find common ground with legislators. He said those are among the reasons he quit the OEA’s top lobbyist job in 2011 to become Barresi’s chief of staff.

As OCPA has said repeatedly, it’s time for our state’s political leaders to enact “paycheck protection” legislation. It makes no sense to have the government continue to serve as the dues collector for Big Labor. As The Oklahoman recently put it, “Why should the state keep propping up the unions?”

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