Fort Wayne Community School Board President Mark GiaQuinta conducted a press conference last Thursday to put the entire elected FWCS board firmly into the corner with the interests of the ISTA-NEA teachers union in opposing pending state legislation on collective bargaining, school vouchers and charter schools, despite the expected goal of improved school academic performance at reduced costs. As chair of the board, GiaQuinta went far outside the scope of his elected office in his public support of the union, which he cloaked as support for the teachers.
Philosophically, we wanted our teachers and our legislators to know that we are not afraid of the rights teachers obtain through collective bargaining,” he said. “It’s a good system.”Unfortunately, Mr. GiaQuinta needs to understand that the public is entitled to more information than he provides. As James R. Schlesinger famously said: "You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts." Unionism in general and any public union specifically, does not represent "a good system" and the Indiana legislation is about the union, not the teachers. Moreover, the union does nothing to promote and improve the quality of education while at the same time it raises the cost of teacher contracts that must be paid from our taxes.
“Teachers are feeling as if they are under attack with so much legislation directly affecting their jobs,” said board president Mark GiaQuinta in a news release. “We want teachers to know that we appreciate their work and dedication to our students.”
Collective bargaining is supposed to offset an imbalance of power between employees and management. In the private sector, there is an inherent adversarial relationship between the two sides in labor negotiations. Each knows that if the company gives too much away and fails to make a profit, it will be forced to shut its doors and everyone loses.What are the teachers unions -- those third-party interlopers planted firmly between educational institutions and their teachers -- all about? Former NEA president Keith Geiger pretty much sums it up at the union's convention:
The nature of public unions is different. Government employees are negotiating across the table from government representatives, who often are those whom the union worked hard to elect. The balance of power shrinks dramatically and the relationship is not nearly as adversarial. It is government negotiating with itself.
And because it is other people’s money at stake — the taxpayers’ — there is a lot less concern for the bottom line.
We need to retool collective bargaining as the great engine driving change and innovation in school districts all across America. [...] We are talking about waking up -- school boards, administrators, and association leaders -- to our shared interest in revitalizing public education.Geiger was obviously talking out of both sides of his mouth, since the NEA worldview is not about "revitalizing public education," by improving the quality and effectiveness of student education efforts. Their bottom line is jobs, paychecks and union power! What the heck, everybody knows that school kids don't pay union dues!
So allow yourselves to fantasize for a moment. Imagine a school system where the traditional contract has been shed like an outgrown skin. Imagine a district where the NEA local controls nearly three-fourths of the school district budget [the FWCS contract is 94%], and uses that power to create new teaching slots, set their own salaries, reduce class sizes, and carve out a new preparation period.
Sound like utopia? Well, it's not. I just described the contract negotiated by NEA members in New Albany/Floyd County, Indiana. And, if our colleagues can do it there -- a district that was notorious for bad union-management relations -- then, clearly, we are looking at a whole new world of possibilities.
On February 8, more than 1000 Indiana teachers were illegally called to attend a rally at the Indiana Statehouse by the ISTA union leaders in direct violation of state law. Governor Mitch Daniels response to the rally was: "As always, the union's demand is more money, no change. Their priority is their organization, not the young people of Indiana."
In the photo above, FWCS teacher Susan Brice is shown protesting. Her absence from school was obviously condoned by Mr. GiaQuinta,and the FWCS board, as well as by Schools Superintendent, Dr. Wendy Robinson and her administrative staff. Most likely, other Fort Wayne teachers were in Indianapolis as well. Democrats have this thing about ignoring the law and these teachers didn't even need phony doctor excuses as provided in Wisconsin.
The time is fast approaching when college-educated teachers must take pride in their profession and seek the freedom available to professionals everywhere -- freedom to negotiate wages and benefits based upon personal skill levels and accomplishments. Then and only then will public education change for the better.
Unions are for chumps -- especially socialist chumps.