Add Some Teachers Union Meeting Fireworks to Your July 4th Weekend

I’m getting ready for all the hot dogs, swimming, and fireworks this weekend. But if you want to keep tabs on a different kind of fireworks, stay tuned to the Education Intelligence Agency’s coverage of the annual National Education Association Representative Assembly, this year in San Diego.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan kicks off the five-day event this morning with a “town hall” meeting of union members. So there might be some fireworks for you right there.

In the meantime, Larry Sand of the California Teachers Empowerment Network welcomes the NEA delegates to town with a critical op-ed in the local San Diego Union-Tribune.

After discussion the exorbitant salaries of union officers and pointing out the likelihood that the NEA will increase mandatory dues amounts in the middle of a recession, Sand writes:

Finally, it is important to note the way the teachers unions collect dues from members. No, it’s not like paying rent or a credit card bill — members do not send a monthly payment to the union. Dues money is typically deducted from the employee’s paycheck, just as state and federal taxes are. This means that individual school districts collect dues from teachers and then turn the money over to the union. Hence, the public is paying for the right of the unions to use the school districts as bagmen. Perhaps, especially in these tough times, already heavily taxed Californians should insist that these affluent unions collect their own dues.

A great idea, but — politically speaking — may be just wishful thinking. Just ask the supporters of last year’s Ethical Standards amendment in Colorado that was defeated by millions of dollars in union money. However, the important thing to remember is that Colorado teachers still have membership options. Commemorating freedom is what this whole weekend is about, after all.

So have a Happy Independence Day, and please take a few minutes to listen to the Declaration of Independence read aloud: