Additionally, the AFT endorsed other progressive policies at their convention that are unrelated to education, such as the Green New Deal, affordable housing, and universal healthcare. For many of the parents of the nearly 50 million K-12 public school students in the US, these policies likely go against their personal and political beliefs and they should be concerned that this leftist ideology is creeping into their child’s classroom.
This seems to already be occurring in California. State lawmakers have paved the way for the country’s first mandatory ethnic studies graduation requirement, a move that is actively embraced by the California Teachers Union. The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote Sunday about California’s planned curriculum mandate: “This is ugly stuff, a force‐feeding to teenagers of the anti‐liberal theories that have been percolating in campus critical studies departments for decades. Enforced identity politics and ‘intersectionality’ are on their way to replacing civic nationalism as America’s creed.”
Parents and taxpayers should also be concerned if teachers unions had overwhelmingly right‐wing ideas and influence as well, which is why limiting the overall power of public sector unions is so crucial.
While COVID-19 has caused major disruptions in how we live and learn, it has also empowered parents to look more closely at their children’s education. As more families choose independent homeschooling and learning pods this fall, education is becoming more decentralized and family‐centered. A recent Wall Street Journal op‐ed speculated that this education trend is likely to strike teachers unions hard: “What happens when they refuse to do their jobs and it turns out home‐schoolers are better at it anyway?”
Education choice and innovation during the pandemic will loosen the clutch of the powerful teachers unions and their progressive agenda. Despite some schools and teachers trying to push parents away from observing their child’s instruction, more parents are waking up to what their children are learning in school and realizing that, in many cases, it may run counter to their own values. A vocally progressive agenda and broad Democractic Party allegiance by powerful teachers unions, combined with the proliferation of more schooling alternatives resulting from the pandemic, may prompt more parents to opt out of their local district school for other options.
The pandemic is set to weaken the long‐held grip of teachers unions on US education and social policy, and strengthen educational diversity and choice for more families. It may also prompt a closer look at the outsized influence of public sector unions more generally. Taxpayers should know what they are paying for.