I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Could This be the Thing that Drives Teachers Union Memberships Even Lower Locally?

People I speak with at education conferences around the state and country are amazed by the fact that union membership is so low in Escambia County among the classroom teachers.

In many parts of the country, union membership is mandatory for public school employment.  (This is a practice I strongly disagree with, by the way...)

Most years, from what I've been told ever since I've been on the school board in Escambia County, the majority of public school  teachers are not members of their local union.

I don't know that our local union has ever garnered more than 50% membership?


Teachers Unions have been pilloried nationally for spending member dues, overwhelmingly, on partisan (Democratic) issues and candidates, and for siding with teachers over students in many high profile cases of teacher misconduct.

Recently retired National Education Association president Dennis Van Roekel's fiery tirades at  national conventions and his fat $500,000 K + Salary earned from the backs of hard working public school  teachers didn't help the union's cause at all.

Van Roekel's  disdain for embracing true education reform did little to garner sympathy for public sector white collar unions from skeptical conservatives and independents...

But some teachers locally, even conservative ones, begrudgingly maintain union membership for the liability protection it offers.  If a student makes an allegation of misconduct or worse--such an allegation can ruin a teacher's career and life.

So the widely known and understood yet never discussed fact of the matter is that locally some journeyman teachers who already hold continuing, professional contracts, are paying their monthly dues simply for the liability protection union membership offers.

Recognizing this, Florida House of Representative leaders, in the last session, funded a blanket insurance policy that pays for the professional liability insurance for all of Florida's classroom teachers.

At the end of August, the Escambia County School district sent this email to all classroom teachers in our schools.  Attached to the email was this flyer describing the program's benefits.

A teacher I know said to me recently "Jeff-- I'm doing it.  I'm quitting the union!"  when I asked him why, he said it was because of the email and the new liability protection offered by the state.  "I hope I'm making the right decision"  he said.

Could This be the Thing that Drives Teachers Union Memberships Even Lower Locally?

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