Don't confuse good teachers with teachers unions

DeVos: Children in urban areas being harmed by teachers unions

Former secretary of education Betsy DeVos assesses how teachers unions are damaging city students during the COVID pandemic on ‘The Story.’

Ever since the Chicago Teachers Union announced that its teachers “decided” not to go back to school for in-person learning, I’ve been hearing and reading about teachers being called “lazy” and “unprofessional losers,” among other names that can’t be printed.

Even now, as the union and Chicago Public Schools agreed to allow students back in school Wednesday, let’s not confuse good teachers with teachers unions.

Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey speaks ahead of a car caravan where teachers and supporters gathered to demand a safe and equitable return to in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic in Chicago, Illinois on Dec. 12, 2020. 
((Max Herman/NurPhoto via Getty Images))

When I heard the news about CTU, my head nearly exploded. I couldn’t believe we were headed down this road again after seeing what online “learning” did to our precious babies last time unions locked kids out of their schools. We are seeing now that our kids are behind, below grade level and suffering socially and emotionally from the debacle union bosses and their complicit school administrator cronies put them through for the last two school years. 

Many of my students are insecure, immature, and are having problems coping outside the classroom. But teachers are afraid of dying. They shouldn’t have to risk it all to do their jobs, right?

Give me a break. When I went into teaching, I had no idea I’d be working in a petri dish every single day. As much as I adore them, little kids are germ factories. They produce copious amounts of snot. They sneeze without covering their mouths. They pass gas and then all have a good laugh about it together.

But even after I learned that I worked in sometimes questionable hygienic conditions, I kept coming back. Because, for good teachers, our job is a calling that cannot be denied. We care about our students, and we will do anything to make sure that students’ needs are met—all of them. Remote learning shortchanges kids so much that I can’t begin to list unmet needs.

So what exactly is going on in Chicago? Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel famously said, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

Enter the Chicago Teachers Union. Pre-COVID, the thought of shutting down schools and keeping kids at home learning on computers was unthinkable. Then most of the nation did just that in the spring of 2020. When it was time to reopen the schools, national union bosses of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, and big city union chiefs in cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles presented a list of demands that had to be met before they would “agree” to go back to in-person learning. 

And now it’s happening again—not just in Chicago, but in other cities as well.

These teachers unions insult my profession. How dare they subject us to name-calling and embarrassment while too much of the general public think that every teacher is on board with this nonsense? If you’ve read this far, don’t miss this point: Not all teachers agree with teachers unions. Like me, many teachers are not even members of a union. We happily work in our schools as confident, strong teachers who prefer to think for ourselves, outside the confines of union rhetoric.

Teachers who go along with union shenanigans are part of the problem. They are the ones who get all of us labeled as “lazy” and “unprofessional.” Teachers who buy into the union-backed frenzy of critical race theory, gender identity mischief, mandatory vaccines, online learning, and so on are the ones who cause parents to pull their kids out of failing schools (and parents should). These teachers should be ashamed of themselves.

I am not ashamed. I want to remain with my students—in-person—nurturing them and helping them grow into the best versions of themselves. There are thousands and thousands of other teachers out there across the country who feel the same way I do. My bet is that most of them are not fans of teachers unions.

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