The recently concluded teachers’ union strike in Chicago has been getting a lot of headlines over the past two weeks and understandably so. Chicago teachers were refusing to show up to work because they thought a 16 percent pay raise and summers off to was a raw deal, even though most private sector workers in the Windy City, who make 32 percent less than Chicago teachers on average, could only dream of such an offer. But Chicago isn’t the only place where union bosses are putting their personal interests ahead of students and their duty to educate them. Though it has not received as much attention as the Chicago strike, an equally important education reform battle is taking place in Louisiana, where the teachers’ union there is waging a legal fight to keep kids trapped in failing schools.
Earlier this year, Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law the second largest voucher program in the country. As ATR pointed out in a column for Politico, the education reform that Jindal signed into law this year is “one of the most significant school choice bills in U.S. history. It allows 380,000 students from low- and middle-income households across Louisiana to escape substandard schools.”
The Louisiana Federation of Teachers has fought Jindal’s reforms every step of the way and continues to do so even though they have become law. The union has since pressed ahead and filed a lawsuit arguing that the voucher program is unconstitutional. The union filed a petition and asked for an injunction to prevent the voucher program expansion from going into place until the legal dispute was resolved. Fortunately for Louisiana students trying to escape failing schools, that request was denied.
Union bosses responded by resorting to intimidation. The law firm retained by the union sent a letter on July 25 to all the schools agreeing to participate in the voucher program. The letter announced a two day time frame for the schools to rescind their decision to accept funding from the program. Union leaders are now threatening to sue each school who continues to participate in the program. This is an unprecedented level of bullying, even for union standards.
Again, the union seems only concerned with protecting their own interests, with no regard for students. The fact is that thousands of kids across Louisiana will have better and brighter futures because of Jindal’s education reforms. The actions of the Chicago teachers’ union over the past two weeks were deplorable, but their counterparts in Louisiana have found a way to one up them in terms of detestability and selfishness.