Indiana Teachers Union Secedes; Some Colo. Teacher Member Options Limited

Colorado teachers have options. That’s why I’m interested by stories like a new one from Fort Wayne, Indiana, where local teachers decided to secede from the state and national teachers union (H/T Education Intelligence Agency Communique):

President of the Northwest Allen County Education Association Alan Bodenstein told NewsChannel 15, they’ve been talking about it for about a year. He said it came to a “perfect storm” of a lot of different issues that finally made them vote on it.

“The financial piece of it, there’s always the political part of it, but I think for me, the biggest part was our membership was starting to dwindle and we needed to figure out a way to build a stronger local,” he said.

There are about 150 members right now and the vote Thursday night was 111-17 in favor of the separation….

In his insightful new book Special Interest, Stanford’s Dr. Terry Moe points to strong survey data that show teachers union members are significantly more satisfied with their local than with the state or national bodies (though even the latter has majority support). It’s only somewhat surprising then to read the news article’s claim that 12 other Indiana local unions already seceded before the one in Northwest Allen County.

The phenomenon isn’t isolated to the Hoosier State. Back in February, the Education Policy Center’s Independent Teachers blog brought attention to the fact that teachers in two Iowa districts decertified their affiliations with the state teachers union and the National Education Association in the same week. A similar development out of Kansas was a big story in 2009.

The local-only union model is one of many membership options available to Colorado educators — especially worth noting during the busy September season, when union members in many school districts have very little time to decide if they want to end their payroll dues deductions for the rest of the year. Yes, Colorado teachers have options, but often a less-than-perfect freedom to exercise those options accordingly.