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Why Is WA Teachers Union Suing to Ban Charter Schools?

WEA still suing to ban charter schools in WA
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) WEA still suing to ban charter schools in WA

Despite last week being National Charter School week, the Washington Education Association (WEA), our teachers union, wants charter schools out of business.

It’s not so much the rank-and-file educators who want these new independent schools banned, it’s mostly union bosses and leadership.    Why is the WEA so insistent upon repealing the voter-approved Charter School law?

Here’s a pretty concise explanation of what a Charter School is from the Washington Policy Center:

“A charter school is a community-based public school that operates independently of central district management and administrative rules. Charter schools are tuition-free and open to all students based on family choice.  Charter schools are not for everyone, only 5 percent of public school children attend a charter, but they are proven to work in educating the most disadvantaged kids.”

They are also smaller than regular schools, with 22% fewer students. They’re cheaper than regular public schools, and teachers are hired as individual professionals, not through the union.   A 2013 Stanford University study found their students perform significantly better in reading and math than traditional school students.

So with all this successful data, why is the WEA pushing this lawsuit to have the Charter School option repealed by the legislature?  Because the independent teachers don’t have to pay WEA union dues, therefore, they’re not “controlled” by the powerful union.  It’s a similar situation found in other organized labor industries.   The unions often attempt to put competing non-union industries out of business.

That way, they can create a monopoly in their industry or profession and “negotiate” (some say, bully) their way to often unreasonable demands. They use their clout for favorable political purposes.  It’s not about the kids, it’s about power.

Labor unions have, and still do serve, a useful purpose.   They’ve been important in making sure workers are fairly treated and compensated.  But the pendulum has swung too far in the wrong direction.   Instead of being about fair and reasonable conditions and pay,  unions often don’t care what financial disruptions they cause for companies or industry.   They only care about getting everything they want when they want it, regardless of the consequences to others.  They have become, powerful, and often corrupt, political machines.

We’ve cited before, and will do so again, the Hostess Company. In 2012 the biggest bakers and confectioners union (18,000 workers)  who worked at Hostess refused to compromise on a restructuring plan that could have saved the company from going under.   They chose to strike, killed the corporation, and ultimately cost themselves their own jobs, and several thousand others for workers who chose NOT to strike.

Boeing Machinists nearly torpedoed the 777x project in Everett by sticking to their union-boss mandated demands.   Their stubbornness and refusal to compromise could have cost the Seattle and surrounding area at least 12,000 jobs in the long run.  Fortunately,  it didn’t come to pass.

Instead of focusing their efforts on providing the best possible learning opportunities and working hard to provide quality education,  the WEA is more worried about crushing a “competing” educational system – one that appears initially to be outperforming existing schools!

 

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