By Steve Gunn

GENEVA, Ill. – Why don’t the union people just come out and say it?

stopwhiningThey don’t like charter schools because they take state money away from traditional public schools and local teacher unions and threaten union jobs.

But that type of honesty would be an admission that unions are self-serving entities that don’t give a squat about student learning, and have no respect for families who desire school choice.

The latest example comes from Illinois, where an organization called “Northern Illinois Jobs for Justice” hosted a meeting Sunday to protest a proposed virtual charter school that wants to come to the region.

A nonprofit called “Virtual Learning Solutions” is petitioning 18 school boards for permission to open the Illinois Virtual Charter School at Fox Valley, according to The nonprofit plans to contract with K12 Inc. to provide the curriculum and teaching services for the virtual school.

The folks with Illinois Jobs for Justice don’t like that idea at all.

First they whined at the meeting about the amount of money that K12’s CEO made in 2011 – a reported $5 million.

Then they went on about how for-profit companies “have no place in public education.”

“A for-profit corporation has a duty to enhance shareholder value, to increase its stock price and to increase profits,” a union supporter was quoted as saying at the meeting. “It does not have a duty to educate our young children.”

What nonsense. A corporation that contracts to educate children will only be successful and make a profit if it’s succeeds at its mission. It’s no different than the Vlasic pickle company. If the pickles are not high quality and do not please customers, that company will go out of business.

If the CEO of a for-profit virtual education company makes $5 million per year, that must mean his company is successful, which means its customers (parents and students) are satisfied. What exactly is the problem with that?

Why does the profit concept bother these union folks so much? Are they so completely sold on Marxism that they can’t conceive of a for-profit company doing something well that benefits society?

Other speakers at the meeting complained about supposedly poor test scores for students in K12 Inc. programs in other states.

How ironic. Teachers unions across the nation have been losing their voices trying to convince everyone that test scores mean nothing when it comes to student learning, but in the case of virtual schools they suddenly matter?

Even if K12 test scores are bad in other states, can’t the unions trust parents enough to let them decide what type of school is best for their children? If K12 is that bad, it will scare families away. The unions won’t need to remind them that their children’s needs are not being met.

The bottom line is that teachers unions in Illinois and across the nation desperately want to maintain their corner on the education market. They want students to remain trapped in geographic school districts, regardless of the quality of instruction offered, so that teachers in all public schools will have a guaranteed clientele of students every year and plenty of job security.

They hate competition because it threatens their jobs.

That’s their problem, not ours. American families deserve more than one educational option for their children, regardless of how the unions feel about it. This is America, the land of the free, not the home of the trapped and powerless.

If traditional public schools want to keep their students, they better make sure they do a better job of teaching kids than charter or private schools. If they can do that, most families will probably ignore alternative schools. If they can’t they have no room to complain.

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