By Steve Gunn
EAGLE POINT, Ore. – Another day, another teachers strike in Oregon. This time it’s in the Eagle Point school district.
What’s ironic about this work stoppage is that it’s starting on National Teachers Day. I guess that means we should take a moment to honor professionals who walk out on their students when they don’t get their way.
Another irony is that a member of the Eagle Point teachers union dared to write an op/ed in a local newspaper with the headline, “Teachers standing up for beliefs and for students.”
Then we found an article summarizing the main issues separating the union and the school board, and quickly came to a different conclusion: The union is standing up for its financial desires, and the best interests of students have nothing to do with it.
According to an article posted on MailTribune.com, the school district wants the right to subcontract for support staff, like custodians and bus drivers, to save a lot of money that can be spent on students. The union opposes that idea, because some union members would be replaced with non-union members who do not pay union dues.
The school district wants to cut down teacher prep time and add teacher-student contact time. The union wants to keep the same prep time.
The district wants to end the expensive practice of offering full insurance benefits to part-time employees. The union wants to maintain full coverage for part-time personnel.
The district is offering a one percent salary increase for teachers, beginning in the 2013-14 school year. The union wants the raise implemented a year earlier.
If you have a moment, look up and down that list of issues again, and ask yourself if there’s anything there that justifies a strike, particularly in the final month of the school year, on the eve of graduation.
Couldn’t they keep talking about this stuff over the summer, and work it out before the start of fall classes?
The union is pursuing this despicable strategy because it works. The Eagle Point union voted to go on strike in 2009, and was rewarded with a new contract at the last minute, following an all-night bargaining session.
Do the citizens of Oregon really want to put their schools through this frustrating and damaging game every few years? Do they really want to allow the unions to hold students’ educations hostage at regular intervals?
This is no way to run schools. Children should have an absolute right to daily instruction that is never interrupted by adult disagreements. Oregon would be very smart to join the 37 other states that have made teacher strikes illegal.
If that doesn’t happen, this sort of “I’ll take my ball and go home” game will continue to occur, and students and taxpayers will continue to be shortchanged.
Wake up, Oregon!