Diane Ravitch, Union Shops and the Education Next Poll

Paul E. Peterson
Year of publication: 
July 27, 2015

An ancient Armenian King, Tigranes the Great, when told Roman General Lucius Lucullus and his army were en route to Armenia, had the messenger beheaded. Unfortunately, that made it difficult for Tigranes to gather any further intelligence, Plutarch tells us.

That poor but faithful messenger came to mind the other day when Diane Ravitch, a close ally of teacher unions, pulled a “Tigranes” in her blog post. The message I carried pertained to something akin to the “union shop,” the practice of collecting agency fees to cover collective bargaining costs from teachers who do not join the union. The constitutionality of the California law requiring such fees will be considered by the Supreme Court this coming term. The plaintiff alleges the fees violate her right of free speech by forcing her to contribute to the activities of a union with which she disagrees.

Drawing upon early results from the ninth annual Education Next poll scheduled to be released in August, Martin West and I reported both teacher and the general public’s thinking about this issue in an op ed published in the Wall Street Journal. Our message: Teachers themselves do not like agency fees. 50% of them are opposed. 38% favor agency fees; 13% do not have a position. Their opinions are similar to those of the general public; 43% oppose agency fees, 34% support them, and 23% do not take a position.