It’s taken schools a long time to reopen during and after the pandemic, even though children have not been as heavily impacted by COVID as adults. Why has this happened? Because of politically powerful groups called teacher unions.


Here’s a transcript of our conversation:

Brittany: Hi Emma.

Emma: Hi, Brittany.

Brittany: So we’ve talked briefly in past episodes about labor unions. Not a whole lot, but we’ve talked a little bit. So as a refresher, unions are when a group of workers forms together to do what’s called collective bargaining. And what this means is that you have like a person, or usually, it’s an agency who works with employers to negotiate or work things out, like your payment, your working conditions, and benefits like healthcare. And you know, if you just hear that, you think like, oh, that sounds pretty good. You know, it’s nice to have somebody fighting for me, but it’s not so great. In fact, a lot of the time people are forced to join and pay for the unions. And ii history, like people who wouldn’t join sometimes, would get beat up, watch newsies. In fact, if you ever wanna learn about this, there’s a great musical except for that. The good guys are not really the good guys. That’s a context for another episode, But, unions are also very political. So the union dues they take, and a lot of times this is taxpayer money because they’re public unions, they’ll give them to different political causes. So the money members are forced to pay. Like, they might not even agree with these political causes. So let’s say that you were in a union and you didn’t wanna be in a union and I was making you pay for it, and then I was giving that money to a candidate. You didn’t believe it. Like that sounds pretty unfair, right?

Emma: Yeah, absolutely.

Brittany: See, and that’s exactly what unions do. So unions also get in the way of the market because employers should be working with their employees directly. Right? If I hire you, Emma, you and I should be talking and say, you know, I wanna make this much, I wanna work these hours. And then I’ll say like, okay, that works for me. Or, oh, no, that doesn’t, you and I should be working together without a middleman. But that doesn’t happen with unions. So a lot of times the individual, which, you know, we’re big fans of individualism over here the individual gets ignored because people are just making decisions for the group instead of the individual. So that’s not great. There have been some recent Supreme Court case victories where a little bit more power has been, taken away. from the union. So that’s been good. But, so what I wanna really talk about today, now that we have that little refresher on what a union is, I wanna talk about a certain type of union. And this is, in my opinion, one of the worst types of unions. And that is The teacher’s unions.

Emma: Yes, I agree. I think they are the worst. there are lots of different kinds of unions that have sort of different emos and I guess you would say like missions and ways that they operate. And I actually, a couple of jobs ago worked for a group called the Freedom Foundation, and we were working to help people who were trying to leave unions successfully.

Brittany: Really? That’s interesting.

Emma: Yeah. They’re over on the west coast. so I spent a lot of time talking with people who were stuck in teacher’s unions and could not get out. And when they would try to get out these bully people would show up at their work and start harassing them. And it’s so funny because the unions would always claim like, oh, we’re here to help you, we’re here to support you. But if someone said, well, the political donations that you’re making to groups like Planned Parenthood Yeah. Or groups like the Democratic Party are violating my conscience, I don’t wanna be a part of it, they would just start harassing them like crazy. And it’s bully tactics. So a lot of this was really highlighted during the pandemic when more people were paying attention to, what these unions were doing and how they were sort of controlling how education worked. And in New Jersey, the Montclair Education Association demanded additional school funding and expensive safety measures before they would agree to even do a hybrid model of school, which is basically where it’s half online, half in person, or some sort of mix and with part-time attendance. So they had been closed since the very beginning of the pandemic and union representatives. So people who were on the side of the union representing what they believe argued that the schools should continue to stay closed for another year. Now we have to remember that the science tells us that children, unless they have an underlying condition, really are not at risk. That’s, yeah. For any sort of complications or harm from COVID. So that’s another thing to keep in mind here. But when the school decided to go to a hybrid model where the kids went part-time in person and part-time online, the union actually encouraged people not to go back to work. And we’ve talked about this a little bit before, like you said, Brittany, but that’s called a strike. And it’s when a union actually encourages people to not show up to work so that they can basically hold out and threaten their employer until they get what they want. And what these teachers wanted was to not have to go back to work. They’d been teaching online for a while, people weren’t going to school. There were a lot of problems with that and they were just refusing to go back. So that’s just one example. another teacher’s union in Chicago said that reopening the schools is racist and sexist.

Brittany: So silly.

Emma: Which is pretty absurd. and not only are these kids not at risk, but a lot of kids have been really struggling to adjust to online school. Yeah. We’ve seen real declines in, like test scores and the ability of these kids to keep up online. And a lot of the times too, like people wanna talk about how oh, this is racist and sexist. What it really does is it harms children who do not have as much access to technology. So in a lot of families, you know, not every kid has an iPad or has a laptop.

Brittany: I’ve been wondering about that because yeah. How are they gonna afford all this?

Emma: Well, yeah, exactly. So, you know, maybe if you’re listening, your family has like a computer that you’re able to use when you need to do homework or something like that. But I don’t know many people where every kid has their own like laptop or computer or iPad device that they can do school with. No, I didn’t either. We all use the same old Yep. really slow computer and we would all fight over it. But that’s another really big problem here is that these kids have really suffered with, their education and not been able to get the help that they need from teachers. Teachers have still gotten paid through the whole pandemic and a lot of them have just completely refused to show up to work.

Brittany: No, that’s exactly right. And it’s okay. So teacher’s unions obviously have the same problems as other unions do. But I feel like teacher unions are so much worse because it has to do with education. And you know, so often they’ll say like, oh, you know, we’re looking out for the best interests of the students. But I don’t know that that’s true, especially since so much of the time it’s just political power and they’re using it to their own benefit and they’re even controlling what’s taught in school based on their political view. So that’s very scary when you think about it. And like you said, they strike often when they don’t get what they want or they threaten lawsuits. And to me, that just feels like someone throwing a temper tantrum. Right? Like Yeah. And in the pandemic, it’s them literally saying, I don’t wanna go to work for no real reason. You know a lot of people talk about following the science and like you said, there’s no scientific evidence to say that children are posing a real threat with spreading COVID. So you have to wonder like, okay, this seems so silly. and unions also make it really hard to fire bad teachers. And this is what really makes me mad. I think it was John Taylor Gatto, I’m not sure, but I think it was him who wrote about, what happens when a teacher is, bad, they can’t fire them they basically send them to like a big building and they hang around all day and they’re still getting paid. So they’re getting paid tax dollars to not do anything. And so you think about that, it’s infuriating. But what were you gonna say?

Emma: Well, so I have a personal story here. So in high school.

Brittany: Oh, dear, you tell.

Emma: I had a teacher who shall remain unnamed if he’s listening to the Tuttle Twins podcast. For some reason, he’s gonna know who he is. But he was a psychology teacher. And psychology is a class that should have been really engaging and interesting. Yes. Cause it’s something that I would

Brittany: Yes, it’s fascinating.

Emma: To learn more about, especially in high school. And when we would show up to class, he basically just told us openly, we’re not really gonna do very much in this class. We’re gonna watch a lot of movies. You’ll do a little homework here or there, we’ll have a couple of assignments here or there, but basically, we’re just gonna watch movies and hang out and chill and they’re not gonna do anything about it. And by they, he means the people running the school. He goes because I have tenure. And that’s kind of what John Taylor Gatto was talking about there. Tenure is basically, something that teachers get after working for a long time through the union where it almost makes it impossible to fire them. So that’s what he was talking about. He said, I’m not doing my job. I’m not actually going to teach you guys. I’m not gonna challenge you or force you to grow or learn anything beyond what you already know. I have tenure and they can’t do anything about it.

Brittany: Oh my goodness

Emma: That’s really bad. But also you’ve talked a little bit about the political aspect of that. I wanna go back into that for a bit because these people give a ton of money to Democrats and leftist causes all with our money. And we know that not every single teacher wants to give their money to the Democrat party. That’s, that’s really unfair to them. And ultimately it’s a complete diversion from what unions actually tell people that they’re doing. So not to mention like it’s helping public schools have a lot of problems. The public school system is known for being very wasteful and only 10 cents of every dollar spent by the Department of Education actually makes it to the classroom. So the last thing that these schools need are teachers actually making things worse or teacher’s unions. That is, the teachers themselves aren’t a problem. It’s the teacher’s unions. They come in, they take this funding, they pour it into a bunch of Democrat causes. It’s totally corrupt. We talked about special interests. Teacher’s unions are a massive special interest and they’re one of the biggest reasons that schools stayed completely shut down this year.

Brittany: Yeah. And it’s one of the reasons, so my sister-in-law, she was a teacher and she’s not a Democrat. And you know, she eventually ended up leaving teaching cuz it was, so hard for her to not be in the union cuz she was allowed to say no. But it was so hard for her to not be in union and work around other union reps. And it’s funny, I remember when I was in seventh grade, my math teacher giving us a lecture about how all our parents needed to come to this march because teachers weren’t getting paid enough. No. And it’s funny to me now cause I’m thinking like, how dare she like, you know, tell us her politics and, give us this sob story. Like, that’s not what I was in algebra to learn. Yeah. so it’s just, it’s crazy to me. And teachers union are also pretty scary. They are like, think of these like maybe like old woman teachers, but no, like a lot of them are very scary. They have a lot of political power. we talked about appeal to emotions if you remember. And this is very much that, oh, think of the children. If you don’t support us, you hate school. And I saw one documentary, I cant remember what it was called, where a teacher and a teacher union is basically saying there’s no such thing as a bad teacher. Like, it’s just, there’s either bad students or the parents aren’t letting us do our job. And, just like the market, it’s so ridiculous cuz just like the market, if you’re good at your job, you should be rewarded. Yes. And if you’re not good at your job, you shouldn’t be. But the unions make that, that direct, you know, working one-on-one with the people and the people buying the product, which would be I guess the students and their parents. They can’t really give that market feedback. They don’t really have a choice.

Emma: Yeah, Exactly. That’s a great way to put it. I like that idea of, you know, the teachers are basically in business with parents and students and their job is to deliver a product which is quality education and learning and a positive learning environment. And if they’re not doing that, then the parents and the students should be able to fire the teacher and say, you’re not doing your job. Yep. We’re going to replace you with someone who actually cares about teaching and cares about giving us a good education. but the unions really get in the way of that a lot of the times. And again, it violates a lot of people’s conscience to have this money just involuntarily, meaning they didn’t sign up for it, it gets automatically taken out of their paychecks a lot of the time. So that’s a real scandal that I think a lot of people have finally woken up to in the last year with everything going on in these teacher’s unions being so crazy. So I’m glad that more people are realizing it. Definitely, we’ll, be linking some more info on teacher’s unions and kind of, you can learn a little bit. I’ll link a couple of articles that I used to sort of reference back when I was sort of working in this space. But Brittany, do you have anything else to add here?

Brittany: There’s somebody great you can follow for the parents who are maybe on Twitter though. I know Twitter is just a terrible place to be. Sometimes. Corey DeAngelis or DeAngelis, he’s one of my really good friends in, this space in the movement and he is always just going after the teachers union. He’s awesome. They’re blocking him all the time, but he does education policy, he’s been all over. He did a reason he is been with Cato, so definitely follow him on Twitter. In fact, we’ll link to his Twitter, but he’s always saying some great things.

Emma: Totally. Yeah. He sheds a lot of light on crazy stuff going on that I think would go unnoticed if he wasn’t doing it. Yeah. So, go Corey, awesome. All right, we’re gonna wrap it up here guys. Thanks for listening, Brittany, thanks for chatting with me.

Brittany: Of course. Talk to you later.