Democratic Checks and Balances Negated by Union Control of Citizen Boards

(This is essay #6 in the series Cockeyed BC Education)

Democratic Checks and Balances Negated by Union Control of Citizen Boards

(By Tunya Audain, 090322, comment to blog, Schools We Need, by Heather Maahs, to her post, “Union backed trustees”, 090320)

Tracing the rapid development and growth of the teacher unions’ intrusion into school board elections demonstrates two obvious facts:

1) There is an aggressive, systematic, militant move by teacher unions into influence and control of school district boards – something which should never have happened because lay control, that is citizen control, should never have been compromised, undermined, or subverted by those who are governed. The governed are not — within the same timeframe — supposed to be the governors.

That is a classic example of conflict of interest. The teacher unions rationalize this intrusion with three arguments: a) it is their democratic right to be involved, b) they are doing it to advance the rights of children; and c) it moves them closer to worker control of the workplace, with this last objective often hidden from public view. It is a long-held agenda item of socialists and many activist leaders in the teacher movement.

2) There is a vacuum into which teacher unions move rather effortlessly and unopposed. Who is to stop them? Their own meek and acquiescent membership sees nothing wrong in this. They are just as “uneducated” as most of the general public about the wrongness of this move — seemingly oblivious to the principle that democracies thrive under surveillance and challenge to power but within a framework of checks and balances.

Where are the checks and balances when few challenge this current intrusion? Except the media – very mildly and respectfully – with reports about the “progress” of teacher unions into realms of decision-making normally outside their sphere. The government of the day seems oblivious (maybe fearful), and being good democracy-believers, treat the unions as worthy opponents in the thrust and parry expected in a well-functioning democracy. The least the government should do is outlaw educators and teacher union operatives on school district boards. AND, the average citizen? Why should he/she go to school board meetings and ask questions? It’s hopeless!

I wrote the essay "Public Education is the End, Not the Means" for Janet’s blog post "Unions hope trustees will help defeat Liberal government" March 19, 2009. Comments so far have been rather defensive. See:


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