DeSantis is On Fire: Now He’s Taking On the Teachers Unions

desantis teachers unions
Office of Governor Ron DeSantis, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons AFGE, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is still riding that midterm high, announcing even more legislation and plans to increase parent and teacher autonomy and weaken the grip of self-interested unions. Finally, it appears there are some Republicans who aren’t going to abandon the education issue to the Democrats.

The Florida Governor did what most politicians never do, he put his name behind school board candidates, and the results astounded the left-wing unions who have had a death grip on school boards nationwide. So will other Governors take a page from DeSantis’ book?

One can only hope. Meanwhile, let’s look at the champion of parental rights and education freedom’s latest announcement, which I’m sure has his arch-nemesis Randi Weingarten outraged.

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Standing Up To The Teachers Unions

This week, Governor Ron DeSantis gave a speech outlining his hopes to pass what he calls the Paycheck Protection legislation. To put it plainly, the legislation forces those who want to participate in unions to cut a check, so to speak, each month as opposed to unions receiving automatic payments.

This would theoretically affect all unions in the state, but this speech was explicitly geared toward the education community. This legislation would end the government’s role in automatically deducting teachers’ pay to send the money to teachers’ unions. (Which, of course, often end up right back in the hands of those politicians anyway.)

Governor DeSantis explains:

“First of all, you totally, you do not have to join teachers union. But if you do, the government, we don’t want to play a role in deducting anybody’s money so you write every month for the dues and you do it that way.”

Essentially, the Governor is taking the government role out of the union’s income stream and putting the power back in the teacher’s hands on what they want to support with their pocketbooks. It’s all about freedom, as the Governor states:

“That maximizes freedom to choose. And I think it’ll be a more accurate reflection of who wants to be apart of this or not.”

But that’s not the only positive of this plan; its genius lies within the details.

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Decertification

Currently, dues are automatically taken out of teachers’ pay and are automatically renewed yearly. This change that DeSantis proposes removes that auto-deduction from teachers’ paychecks and puts the power on the teachers.

Sounds great, right? Not if you are a teachers union.

There has been a fair amount of chitter-chatter that there are more teachers than not who disagree with various measures the unions have been pushing. From gender ideology to critical race theory, I, along with most parents, believe most of America’s educators want to teach the basics.

You know, things like math, reading, and history. Suppose enough teachers opt not to cut a check to their particular teacher’s union of choice. In that case, that might weaken the lobbying power of said union.

The Governor explains:

“If they don’t have a majority of the teachers who are actually signing up to pay dues, it should be decertified. You shouldn’t be able to continue a zombie organization that doesn’t have the support of the people you are supposedly negotiating for.”

Allow me to explain further. Unions get most of their power from their rosters and dues. 

The more people signed into the union, the louder their voice in government. The more people signed into the union, the more dues collected, and the more money available to donate to political parties and candidates.

What a novel idea to elevate not just parents but educators. I would argue Governor DeSantis is the Education Governor. Still, others consider him the enemy of education.

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Two Countries?

This past midterm, Governor DeSantis put his name behind 30 school board candidates, of which 24 won. 

The Governor said of his success:

“I think what we’ve been able to do is show that these races matter.”

And boy, do they; more often than not, what happens in your local school board and local politics affects your lives more than what happens in the swamp of D.C.

The Governor went on to say:

“I think a lot of the teachers unions were surprised at how much effort all of us put into these races.”

And boy, were they. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said of the midterm school board upsets:

“My concern is that we can’t have two countries. This is one United States of America, and we have an obligation to help kids – regardless of whether they’re in South Carolina, Tennessee, New York or California – to learn how to critically think.”

And what a bang-up job you all have done, Randi. But, unfortunately, our children have some of the lowest scores in reading and math has seen in decades.

In It For The Long Haul

Hopefully, the Republican focus on education doesn’t fade away. Based on the continued push out here in Virginia by Governor Glenn Youngkin, the consistent messaging from Governor DeSantis, and of course, former Secretary of State and possible presidential candidate Mike Pompeo declaring Randi Weingarten “The most dangerous person in the world…” it appears that some are at least in the fight for awhile.

DeSantis warned:

“They’re going to double down and they’re going to come at it even harder, guns blazing because this is an entrenched interest that they get their money from being able to be involved in these systems.”

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On the flip side, Randi argues that Big Education when it comes to our children:

“…we have an obligation to create a safe and welcoming environment.”

With the latest Virginia probe, the discovery the Loudoun County Superintendent was culpable in the sexual assaults of girls in his schools by a trans student; it’s hard to believe any of these tools of the unions care about our kid’s safety, let alone education. So perhaps Mr. DeSantis’ move to give parents AND teachers a voice in his state will help push some real change in our public education system.

Because I don’t think Mr. Pompeo is wrong, the future of our country hinges on how well we educate the youngest in our nation. But, unfortunately, all signs indicate that Big Education cares more about pronoun choices than arithmetic and actual grammar.

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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