Teachers’ Union, Members At Odds On Prop. 8
As everyone endlessly debates the in-kind donations offered by the LDS church during proposition 8, isn’t it interesting that hardly a peep has been mentioned about the actual cash donations made by the California Teacher’s Union totaling more than five times that amount, not in “in-kind” donations but actual hard cash.
Whose cash? Teachers’ cash! Money previously earmarked for encouraging much needed class size reduction. NPR reports:
“….the Mormon church said this week its support consisted of in-kind donations of about $190,000.
On the other side of the debate, the California Teachers Association drew fire for its decision to help finance the opposition to Proposition 8 with $1.25 million of its members’ money.”
During the same-sex marriage conflict, the state’s teachers union put up 1,250,000.00 to advocate for gay marriage. That is a significant sum, by far one of the highest donations made by an organization.
But what do the teachers think?
According to an NPR analysis of Proposition 8 contribution data recently released by the California secretary of state, individual public school teachers in the state were giving more money to enact the ban than to defeat it!
So, on an issue that has very little, if anything to do with education, the question has to be asked, “Why did the union cheat its teachers to spend their war chest on an issue it’s members were obviously against?”
Advocacy Outside Education
“It was frustrating,” says Fred Vanderhoof, a sixth-grade teacher who has taught at Nelson Elementary in Pinedale, Calif., for the past 20 years. “But I was not surprised, because they’ve had a liberal agenda for a couple of decades.”
Vanderhoof, who does not belong to the union, gave $650 to support the gay marriage ban. To him, it is unremarkable that teachers gave more money in favor of the ban than against it.
“I think that as public school teachers, we are with these young people every day and we see the problems that they have — not understanding their sexual identity and their sexual roles, male and female.” Gay marriage, he says, “is one more thing happening that is not going to help them. I think we teachers see that.”
Proposition 8 is a social issue, not a classroom issue. How could “gay marriage” be more important to teachers who are desperately advocating for smaller class sizes and job security during a time of extreme budget cuts and downsizing during this period of economic turmoil. In this time of educational crisis, what was the CTA thinking?
Mike Antonucci, a teachers union watchdog and blogger, says union leaders tend to be more liberal than the rank-and-file they represent.
A few years ago, he produced a report about the nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association. He wrote that the group’s own surveys of its members’ opinions demonstrate “how an organization of 2.7 million members of widely divergent political and social views can end up championing a narrowly liberal worldview.”
Antonucci says, “As I understand it, there’s a very powerful gay and lesbian caucus” within CTA’s policymaking council.
Union spokeswoman Jackson rejects the argument that the union’s leaders lean further to the left than its typical members do.
“I think the CTA does represent the majority of its members,” she says. “I don’t believe that the overall membership is more conservative than the leadership. If so, I think we would hear about it.”
Jackson says the union heard from many more members who supported the group’s position than from those who opposed it.
Perhaps CTA’s ears are not open. What else could be the explanation for the large amount of personal donations from CTA members FOR prop 8? If the California Teachers Union truly supported its members, these numbers would be a shocking wake-up call for policy makers inside the union.
Instead, it is a shocking wake-up call to the teachers who think CTA has their interests in mind.