Is It Time for Good Teachers to Decertify Their Union?

Is It Time for Good Teachers to Decertify Their Union?

Members of the Service Employees International Union Local 99 strike, leaving more than 500,000 children shut out of school, in Los Angeles on March 23, 2023. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

John Moorlach
John Moorlach


Updated: 12/21/2023


If you are the parent of school-aged children, the most interesting question you need to ask yourself is, “Who is running my school district?”
Is it the trustees that you voted for on your ballot? Or is it the public employee teachers’ unions?
Reviewing the bargaining agreement between the Newport-Mesa Unified School District in Southern California and its teacher’s union, one finds that there is no clause for management rights (see “Who Runs Your School District: The Board or the Union?,” Aug. 9). What could this intentional oversight lead to?
There is a glaring recent example of the omission of a management rights clause. The elected school district board majority for Chino Valley Unified recently made a pro-parent management decision. What happened next? Its teachers’ union, the Associated Chino Teachers (ACT), filed a complaint with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) on Aug. 8.
The claim is that the school district’s Board failed to negotiate the new management policy with the union before approving it (see “Teachers’ Union Files Complaint Against California School District Over Transgender Student Policy,” Aug. 11).
Excuse me. Does this mean that every time management does its job and approves a new or differing policy, it must reopen bargaining unit deliberations to get the approval of the teachers’ union?
What is the point of holding elections to put taxpayer representatives in trustee positions to oversee the school district where your children attend school? Are they just figureheads? Or puppets of the union?
In this instance, teachers are stating that they can assist students with gender identity issues and keep such serious unilateral actions secret from their parents.
It would seem to me that all but a very few parents would be outraged at what’s being imposed here. More importantly, I would think that the majority of public-school teachers, many who are also parents, would be aghast that they would be partnering with an organization that is a subterfuge to the parents of their students. How do these teachers and administrators sleep at night?
With this type of customer service, what is an upset parent to do? All the more so if they cannot afford a private school or parochial school for their child or children as the obvious option? And with so many parents already struggling, even homeschooling would be a difficult alternative for two-income families.
Maybe it is time to shake the unions at their core. It’s time to try decertifying them. If 30 percent of the teachers sign a petition to leave, say the ACT, then a vote would be held by its entire membership. If the majority of those who vote for an alternative union, or create their own, with a focus on providing appropriate interventions which includes the parents, then new leadership would be the answer.
This is not a common solution, but it is utilized on occasions. It usually occurs when one union wants to commandeer the members of another union. The forms and instructions for filing a decertification petition are provided on PERB’s website.
Surely, more than 50 percent of teachers believe that lying to parents is about as inappropriate as scammers convincing elderly individuals to mail their cash to a strange address and not telling their relatives or bankers as to why they are withdrawing such a large amount of money from their bank accounts. Most teachers are angels and not con artists.
Perhaps it’s time for parents to encourage the teachers who have a moral compass to sign a petition to decertify their scam artist unions. Why? To end their aiding and abetting of an inexcusable policy. And joining a new union, creating their own, or not having a union at all at their school, or for the entire district, is a way for them to resolve this conflict.
Some 350,000 educators around the nation have already exercised this option. Other benefits may include a reduction in union dues and better approaches to addressing colleagues who are not meeting appropriate professional standards and expectations.
It’s time to provide an alternative to the infuriating imposition of secretive and improper policies and procedures that gives parents and other observers the impression that the inmates are running the asylum.
After the union leadership uses the expected euphemisms, like calling well-meaning parents and teachers “terrorists” and “extremists,” let’s be about the business of decertifying the unions and returning control of educational institutions to those who respect their clients and want students to meet or exceed benchmarks for subjects that really matter to their future wellbeing.
Based on the data of how poorly California schools are performing, they’re long overdue for an overhaul (see “School Choice Initiative Flunks—While More Kids Exit Schools,” April 13, 2022). The current union dominated model is not working.
If parents are willing to put in a little sweat equity, they can return the management function back to where it belongs, with the elected trustees. Inverting the current paradigm will set an appropriate leadership structure. And the impacted school teachers will wonder why this strategy wasn’t implemented years ago.

John Moorlach is the director of the California Policy Center's Center for Public Accountability. He has served as a California State Senator and Orange County Supervisor and Treasurer-Tax Collector. In 1994, he predicted the County's bankruptcy and participated in restoring and reforming the sixth most populated county in the nation.

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