Public-employee unions suppress freedom
To the Editor:
In the April 10 Altamont Enterprise, Aarron Harrell wrote that he thought some people were “addled” by his previous letter and required more enlightenment.
Then he continued to muddy the truth about public schools by claiming that the largely non-union chartered schools are not as accountable to taxpayers as conventional public schools. The opposite is true.
Charter schools exist to restore accountability to our public schools. After decades of fighting to hold union-monopolized public schools accountable for their academic decline and fiscal malfeasance, the closest our government and citizen activists could get to restoring accountability was to create new schools with revocable contracts or charters.
When the concept of the chartered school was initially negotiated here in Albany, there was quite a tug of war over who would sponsor or initiate the charters. The unions fought in opposition to the creation of charter schools because it broke their monopoly.
A revocable charter is accountability. When they lost that fight and charters became a reality, those same unions turned around and began lobbying for control of the charter process. They were given a hand in the process but not complete control. State University of New York trustees were also given chartering responsibility.
Some charter schools have done better than others to say the least and it seems as though Mr. Harrell would like to help the unions out by lumping their charter-school failures in with the highly successful non-union ones in order to create the false impression that charters have been a waste of time and resources.
Mr. Harrell states that “income inequality…is the cornerstone of capitalism” and goes on to further misrepresent the nature of the free market and suggests it has no place in our education system. It is hard to understand how any American who claims to believe in democracy could hold such a belief.
The free market does not, as Mr. Harrell claims, “rely on the relationships between the haves and the have-nots.” The free market is called such because it is based on freedom, something that is suppressed by public employee unions.
Unions were created as an expression of the citizens’ right of free association. But when the greedy union bosses of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s day managed to suppress that right by forcing union membership on job seekers, they violated the fundamental principle behind their very existence.
Unions have a place in our economy and in our education system but it’s about time they were put in that place. There is no place in a free society for any group to require association in order to achieve employment. We, as individuals, have a Constitutional right to associate freely with whomever we want.
The people of Wisconsin, led by Governor Scott Walker, have fought a long hard battle to restore the right of free association for the citizens there. They have survived the initial election, recall election, and court challenges by the indefatigable teacher unions and managed to restore the right to work in that state.
The Wisconsin economy is rebounding quickly despite the unions’ efforts to continue to enforce the kind of suppression that we labor under here.
Governor Andrew Cuomo is right to encourage the growth of charter schools and I hope he has the political will to stay the course.