By Steve Gunn
CAHOKIA, Ill. – The first day of school should be the first day of school, period. Bells should ring, classes should begin and learning should proceed.
But the first day of school has been postponed in Cahokia, Illinois, due to a more important issue: Whether the teachers are happy enough with their collective bargaining contract negotiations to show up for work.
In a preemptive move earlier this week, the Cahokia school board voted to postpone the scheduled first day of classes, Aug. 22, to an indefinite date, according to a report from KSDK.com. They said the decision was made due to lingering contract negotiations with the teachers union and the looming possibility of a teachers strike.
In other words, better to make sure the teachers are happy before setting the students up for an unnecessary interruption in their studies.
That’s a valid point, but also a sickening reminder of how teachers unions and the collective bargaining game has become more important in public schools than the students. Union-imposed labor costs not only dominate a typical school’s budget, but now labor disagreements are postponing the start of classes for students.
Public schools are supposed to exist first and foremost for students. They’re needs should always be first priority, while adult disagreements over salaries and benefits should take a back seat. But that’s clearly not the way things work in Illinois, which is a hotbed for school labor unrest and teachers strikes every year.
This type of system clearly must be altered. Teachers unions must get on board with a new students first philosophy, or risk being whisked away by the prevailing winds of change blowing through our nation’s public schools.