Throwing Down the Gauntlet

The Governor of New Jersey provides a model for Michigan

At a recent town hall meeting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie threw down the gauntlet at the feet of the teachers unions:

The fight is about who is going to run public education in New Jersey — the parents and the people they elect, or the mindless, faceless union leaders who decide that they are going to be the ones who are going to run it because they have the money and the authority to bully around school boards and local councils.

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Gov. Christie has it basically right, and with a few minor adjustments to dollar amounts, most of his call to arms applies very well to Michigan; teachers unions here collect hundreds of dollars annually from every public school teacher in the state that they represent, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue with few strings attached. This monstrous war chest is basically guaranteed to them via agency fee clauses agreed to by local school boards, and comes directly out of taxes that are supposed to be dedicated to running public schools. The unions have redirected these dollars into creating a political machine that protects their interests.

Teachers unions can complain about how they are being targeted, but the reality is they have become the bullies, and Michigan schools will continue to be both expensive and academically mediocre (or maybe worse) until the unions are confronted and forced to back down.

Michigan would benefit from having a few elected officials with the nerve to issue the sort of challenge that Gov. Christie has made.