Kansas Teacher Independence Story Makes National Headlines Again

A couple months ago I told you about the Kansas teachers local that fought for and won its independence from the state and national union.

I’m excited, because the podcast I posted up there was quoted in the latest edition of School Reform News:

In a March 30, 2009 interview with the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank based in Golden, Colorado, [Riley County Educators] spokesman Gary [sic] Sigle explained that last year only 14 of the county’s 56 teachers were NEA members, which gave those 14 members exclusive bargaining power. Others wanted a greater say in what was going on locally.

Sarah McIntosh, the writer of the story, also interviewed my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow to get his take on the issue:

“Some teachers who disagree with the more liberal political activities of the larger union bodies may find refuge in dealing with their professional concerns on a local level,” said Ben DeGrow, an education policy analyst at the Independence Institute. “What’s better for educators is more options. One size does not fit all in student learning, nor does one size fit all in teacher representation.

“Relatively few teachers are aware of the alternatives available to them, and the laws in most states make it difficult for them to exercise some of those options,” DeGrow added. “Teachers would be better served by laws that protect their rights to know about their professional options, and it should be as easy for teachers to leave a union or other membership group as it is to join.”

In those two paragraphs, Ben basically stated the reason behind the Independent Teachers website — which shares all kinds of information on membership options for Colorado public educators. Summertime is here, but if you are or know someone who fits that description, please check out the website and keep it in mind for the 2009-10 school year.