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January 2013 Policy Study, Number 13-1


School Choice: Not if the Unions Have Any Say





As beneficial as school choice — including online government schools, open enrollment, the Iowa School Tuition Organizations, private schools, and homeschooling options have been and will continue to be for our children — they are increasingly under attack by well-organized and vocal opponents. Many of these individuals and groups have financial ties to – and are openly funded by – teachers and government workers unions.


Organizations such as the National Education Association and its many state affiliates, including the Iowa State Education Association, make up the largest single block opposed to school-choice options.


They are opposed to virtually every educational option except for our children sitting in chairs in front of their approved and licensed membership. This is whether or not the children sitting in those chairs are actually learning.


Groups such as AFSCME are concentrated on protecting their government jobs and salaries, no matter what is happening with the workers making the tax money which pays them.


Rather than be a force for change and reform, they have chosen to support the status quo. In their zeal to protect their livelihoods, they have lost sight of the goal of ensuring that all children – whether rich or poor, urban or rural – have access to the types of schools that best match their unique learning needs.


While the teachers and government unions are upfront about their opposition to school choice, the news stories quoting many of the most vocal critics fail to report the financial relationships between the critics and unions. The public’s right to know would be better served if voters and taxpayers know and understand these financial relationships and how the critics personally benefit from giving voice to the unions’ argument against school choice.


Further, the working members of these unions also need to know and understand where their hard-earned money – paid in dues and donations – is going. They should be aware of the fact that nearly 100 percent of this money is going to only one political party – the Iowa Democrats, and that it amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars every election cycle.


It is highly unlikely that 100 percent of teachers and government workers are registered Democrats, yet Democrat efforts hinder the education of our children by opposing, virtually sight unseen, any suggestion for improving the knowledge, skills, and abilities of our children.


The union members themselves must start taking a closer look at where their money is going, whom it is supporting, and what their long-term goals are. Then they must stand up and insist on changes.


Other POLICY STUDIES on School Choice include: #12-6, Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way: School Choice in Iowa; #11-8, We Must Find Common Ground, Childrens’ Lives are Wasting; and #11-3, Monopolizing and Derailing the Education Freedom Train, <>.




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