Parents need no reminder of teachers’ unions’ malevolence and disregard for students’ well-being. They experienced it firsthand throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and are suffering its consequences to this day.
There are, however, too many current and hopeful lawmakers who have already forgotten the damage teachers’ unions wrought on the public education system and the families who depend on it. Or, as is the case with the Democratic Party, they just don’t care.
So, here’s a brief refresher.
Selfishly disinterested in the well-being of students and their families, teachers’ union officials fought to keep public schools closed to in-person learning for more than a year. Indifferent to the concerns of parents, unions pushed schools to keep students as young as 4 years old in masks for hours on end. And, motivated only by political power and their desire to gain more of it, union officials used the initial lockdown to hold schools hostage until a number of policy demands, which included universal healthcare and an increased minimum wage, were met.
The effects on students’ learning were catastrophic. Children forced to stay home for most of the 2020-21 school year lost about 50% of a typical school year’s math learning. Losses in reading and other subjects were up to 60% among low-income and minority students. In total, this generation of students risks losing $17 trillion in lifetime earnings because of the COVID-19 policies forced on them by teachers’ unions.
Democratic candidates look at these consequences and acknowledge the damage done but argue that the emergency of the pandemic necessitated it. But Republicans know better — or, at least, that’s what they claim.
Why is it, then, that a number of Republican candidates in Texas are proudly running on endorsements from the same teachers’ unions that shut down the state’s schools and pushed unscientific masking policies?
Justin Berry, Barron Casteel, and state Reps. Glenn Rogers and Kyle Kacal, each of whom is on the ballot for state legislature this week, have been endorsed by the unions. They’ve also raked in tens of thousands of dollars in donations from groups including the Association of Texas Professional Educators, the Texas State Teachers Association, the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, and the Charles Butt Public Education Political Action Committee.
Casteel, specifically, has received more than $46,000 in recent days from union officials who would like nothing more than to see his conservative primary opponent, Carrie Isaac, lose. Kacal has received nearly $48,000 from the unions; Berry $31,000; and Rogers $35,000.
The question Texas parents should be asking themselves is: Why? Why would a Republican candidate who claims to represent families feel comfortable accepting a single dime from the organizations that harmed students irreparably? And why would union officials, who have been historically tied to Democrats, want to throw their support behind a member of the opposite party?
The answer is simple. Candidates like Berry and Casteel are willing to turn a blind eye to the unions’ behavior over the past two years so long as the checks the unions are writing have enough zeroes. And the unions are more than happy to do just that so long as the Republican candidates agree to help them shut down education freedom initiatives like school choice. Berry, for example, has vowed during his campaign to oppose the expansion of charter schools and has said Texas needs to “make sure that we’re keeping our tax dollars for our public schools in our public school systems.”
Texas families deserve better. They deserve representatives who will fight to make sure their students get the best education possible, whether that’s at home or in a public, private, or charter school. They deserve politicians who will advocate on behalf of their children and make sure they are given the opportunity to excel.
The teacher’s unions have spent the past two years proving they will do the exact opposite. Why would the candidates they endorse be any different?