Wednesday, September 07, 2005

My Local Union and Social Justice

What exactly is "social justice"? Is it the belief that people should work and earn their own money and not be mooches on society? Is it the belief that everyone is entitled to exactly what they earn, and nothing more? Is it the belief that despite our perhaps humble beginnings, we all have the same legal footing to pursue life, liberty, and happiness? Is it the belief that welfare payments should be limited in duration, thus providing impetus for a person to seek meaningful work? Or is it the belief that the rich are the cause of all troubles in society, and class warfare is the foundation of our society? If I were placing money on this, I know which of these options I'd bet the RS people would choose. The RS people wouldn't teach students to be critical thinkers; rather, they'd teach them to criticize. There's a big difference.


So I said in this post, about the Rethinking Schools web site and program. I grow suspicious whenever I hear the words "social justice" or "equity" bandied about in education circles, because those are truly nothing more than lefty codewords for "diversity", "multiculturalism", and "affirmative action". The words themselves are fine, but they have taken on meanings far beyond the dictionary definitions.

So imagine my surprise when I received a mailing from my local teachers' union. Did it address my 40+ student classroom? or my lack of pay raise? or the increase in the state education budget, despite the left's continual harping on Schwarzenegger's slashing? No, this particular mailing was to let me know that a specific insurance company "has donated $3,000 to our association and is supporting our Social Justice Program...." The rest of the letter was quite the advertisement for the insurance company.

Now, there was a disclaimer at the bottom, saying that the mailer was sent at no cost to the union, and that because the insurance company has donated $3000 to the program, they are "entitled to six mailings per year." Still, the fact that my local union has such a leftward bias as to have such a slanted-view program concerns me. I've always strongly supported my local unions but been vehemently opposed to the CTA and NEA. I hope not to find that my local union is no better than those other two. For almost $100/month in combined union dues I deserve so much more....

Update, 9/8/05 6:32 am: For those of you who think I'm overreacting to this "social justice" concept, I'll throw out another term used in such programs, a term whose meaning is far less ambiguous: "unearned white privilege."

Update #2, 9/10/05 9:37 am: Here's an excellent article from the Rocky Mountain News which addresses the topic rather well.

7 comments:

EdWonk said...

I agree. All of us who are forced to contribute to NEA/CTA should at least have the right to vote for the leaders of our national and state organizations.

Polski3 said...

OH GREAT ! As if the constant flow of crap from NEA and CTA "partners" is not enough, now our local association can suck at the corporate trough?????

ONLY three grand for a mailing list of how many professional teachers ?????

Well, when it gets cooler, I can always use it for kindling for my beautiful wife's fireplace.....and she likes her fires in the evening.

Darren said...

Polski, they're paying approximately $1 per teacher....

Noumenon said...

If the unions have corporate sponsors now, who's left? The Johnny Walker Black Panthers?

If the Social Justice program meets with the approval of the insurance company it is probably not leftward biased, but utterly contentless. You haven't any idea what they mean by "social justice"? Then things are going on plan...

Phyllis S said...

A union with a corporate sponsor. The epitome of oxymoron.

Bored Huge Krill said...

that whole rethinking schools thing still has me dumbfounded. I don't care whether the ideology expressed is left, right, up or down. Polluting science and mathematics with ideological dogma is just wrong, no matter what form that ideology takes.

By the way, could you expand a little on the union membership requirements thing? As you know, I'm a Brit resident in the US, so not necessarily up on these things. Are you saying that you're actually *required* to be a union member to teach in a public school?

Genuine question...

Regards
Krill

Darren said...

California is not a "right to work" state. As a public school employee I cannont be compelled to be a union member, but if I opt not to be, the following punishments are meted out:

1. I would have to donate an amount equal to union dues to a union- and district-approved charity, but this option only exists if I have *religious* convictions against union membership! That caveat is actually in my contract.
2. I could be an "agency fee payer". This means that I pay only that portion of the union dues that *the union* says goes directly to collective bargaining issues. The CTA puts that at about 85%, and if I were to be an agency fee payer, CTA would refund 15% of my dues at the end of each year. Of course, we all know that they spend much more than 15% on political causes, conferences, and the like.
3. As an agency fee payer, paying almost $850 a year in union dues, I would not get union protections from lawsuits, or even get to vote on my own freakin' contract, for starters!

There are other sanctions.

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation in Washington does a good job of tracking this kind of stuff.