The Founding Fathers created our government with a system of checks and balances to safeguard fair and equal representation for citizens by ensuring that no one entity could control government. We failed them!
We have let the Political Action Committees and Special Interest Groups essentially take control of our federal, state, and local governments. These groups raise millions of dollars that is used to get chosen candidates elected. This money has essentially bought control of almost every taxing body. And it’s all legal. The laws protecting them were made by the same elected officials who the groups got elected.
One such special interest group is teachers unions. While once created to ensure fair and safe working for teachers, their unions today have become extremely powerful and exert excessive influence onto many aspect of education. In fact, unions are systematically working to control the local school boards, the very boards that the teachers work for, and with whom contract negotiations take place. This is a conflict of interest at best, and a dangerous situation for any organization. This is not about the teachers themselves, who serve our communities in valuable ways and are respected individuals for the work they do. This is about the unions that represent them. (Current District 219 teacher union contract https://www.niles-hs.k12.il.us/sites/default/files/NTFTContract2009-2012.pdf )
Take our local Niles Township School District 219 Teachers Union, which has been very active in getting school Board Members elected who share the vision of the union. For example, candidates who have filed to run in the April 2015 school board have received a questionnaire from Progress 219
, a self-described “coalition of District 219 parents, teachers, support staff, and community members… (whose) primary mission… is to attract, endorse, and support highly qualified candidates to serve on the school board of District 219.” Sounds like an involved group of concerned citizens. But a little digging reveals it is not so innocuous.
The mailing address for Progress 219 is the same address as the District 219 Teachers Union. The District 219 Teachers Union is not made up of parents, support staff, and community members. It is made up of teachers. And it is a strong organization. The teachers union is screening and selecting candidates who will in essence become their boss. (Notice on the questionnaire how many questions there are about the Union, and how few there are about students and their education.)
School boards can, and do, endorse candidates. Many candidates eagerly seek out these endorsements. But for the teachers union to go to such lengths to hide their efforts to screen and endorse candidates and to provide support to Progress 219 is more than a bit underhanded and sneaky.
To influence this school board election, and the pay for the questionnaire postage, the Union is using revenue they get from dues, paid by teachers out of their salaries, which are funded by tax dollars, which are determined by the school board. See the vicious cycle?
While this is all legal, is it the best we can do for our community? Maybe it’s time to keep public sector employee unions from the governing body law of the land. Be aware in the upcoming local election who is asking for your vote and why they are asking it.