Aug. 31, 2022 11:46 a.m. ET
I have a reason to distrust teachers unions (“Charlie Crist Goes All In for Teachers Unions” by Corey DeAngelis, op-ed, Aug. 29). When I was a rookie teacher in the Atlanta Public Schools system, a union representative visited me on my first day. I taught in an “at will” state, but here the union rep had a foothold in the school system. She reminded me that I was in the minority (white and Jewish) and needed union protection in case “something happens” that could end my new career. I thanked her for her visit but told her I was fine.
By the end of that day, my department chair asked me into her classroom. She told me a student had come forward to accuse me of saying that there were no black people in the Bible—something I would neither teach nor believe. I asked which student from which period had accused me, but received no answers.
I returned to my classroom, and there was that same union representative, waiting to remind me that “things can happen.” I refused to join the union and replied that I had an attorney roommate who would happily represent me if “something happens.”
I tell this story to remind Florida voters how teachers unions behave and urge them not to vote for anyone who would have an American Federation of Teachers vice president as his running mate.
Toni C. Brown
Mr. DeAngelis rightly questions the wisdom, after Covid, of politicians embracing the teachers unions and opposing school choice. But parents’ anger at the unions and their allies is about much more than school shutdowns and lack of choice. Parents are awakening to a fundamental disagreement over the purpose of education.
On one side are those who believe that schooling is an extension of parenting. Parents want their children to develop virtuous character and acquire the skills and knowledge to earn a decent living and be good citizens. Teachers properly act as parents’ agents to achieve these ends, bolstering that which is taught in the home.
On the other side are those who believe a class of experts know better than parents do about the values that should be instilled in their children. Teachers are thus expected to enlighten children, often against the supposedly benighted values of their parents. If schools need to keep parents in the dark about what’s being taught, or how their children are using different names and pronouns, so be it.
Parents overwhelmingly take the first view and are dismayed to learn how many school officials take the second. Now, they’re flexing their muscles at school-board meetings and the ballot box. Politicians side against parents at their own peril.
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Appeared in the September 1, 2022, print edition.