Education

Democrats Continue to Put Teachers’ Unions Ahead of Students

Written by Julianne Foster

Nationally, teachers’ unions have become more and more involved politically in support of Democrats. From 2004 to 2016, their donations grew from $4.3 million to more than $32 million.

Opensecrets.org reported, “Even more than most labor unions, they have little use for Republicans, giving Democrats at least 94 percent of the funds they contributed to candidates and parties since as far back as 1990, where our data begins.” Another site, which follows the money of the California Teachers Association, shows records of them giving $38,534,705 to Democrat candidates in a span of 24 years. By contrast, they donated less than $800,000 to Republican candidates in the same time frame.

The data also show that a majority of the Democrat candidates they financially support go on to win their elections. The official website for the CTA has a link to a document with the names of the candidates they support and suggested people to elect. Notably, all 18 candidates named for the State Senate are Democrats.

Clearly, Democrat legislators are gaining a lot by keeping the teachers’ unions happy, which is what fuels their bias to financially support and obsess over public schools and in-person charter schools while non-classroom charter schools suffer. Charter schools have teachers who are not unionized, which costs them dearly when Democrats are in power, stunting their schools from thriving and adequately fulfilling the needs of their growing population of students.

In January, United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew threatened to withdraw support from Democrats if they dare give lenience to charter schools. “Everything gives me second thoughts, because we want people to be pro-public schools,” said Mulgrew. “We want to continue to work with anyone who is a pro-public schools person, but if anyone in office is going to go back to, ‘Oh, we are getting a lot of money from these people,’ and they pass policies that hurt public schools, that is someone we will fight against.”

Elected Democrats continue to make corrupt decisions based solely on the interest of their re-election, which greatly harms students, families, and schools. 

“Non-classroom-based charter schools have played an important role in our state’s public education system and stepped up to the rapidly transforming needs of our students during this government-mandated shutdown. Instead of helping them to educate students, Senate Democrats are denying them of much-needed funding,” explained State Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove. “I am grateful my fellow Republican colleague introduced this critical amendment and am deeply disappointed that Senate Democrats rejected the effort. California and our students deserve better.”

Senator Grove and other members of the California Senate Republican Caucus have stood up for the needs of students and parents to ensure that all schools are treated fairly despite the political gains and losses candidates may experience. This shows a genuine care for the quality of education and support of successful schools—something Democratic ought to take note of. 

Republican State Senator Mike Morrell presented an amendment during a recent Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee hearing, though it was immediately shot down by Democrats. The amendment called for funding grants to non-classroom based charter schools experiencing attendance growth, which matches the funding approved for school districts and in-person charter schools. Non-classroom charter schools are essential during the pandemic period as they offer parents the alternatives of school systems with pre-existing online education options that are higher quality than the last minute, thrown together curriculums of schools recently forced to shift online.

“Democrats in Sacramento are picking winners and losers in our state’s public education system. Every student deserves a chance to succeed,” said Senator Morrell. “The money should follow students regardless of where they go to school. California should not be penalizing families for opting to enroll their children in academic settings that best meet their needs, especially during this time.”

Democrats are blatantly restricting the rights of parents to choose the best educational options for their children. All because of self-interest in the financial support that powerful teachers’ unions offer them in their upcoming elections. This shouldn’t be about politics or lobbying or elections, but giving students the resources they need to succeed. It’s unfortunate that Democrats continue to put their union funders first, and students last.