Our schools need teachers unions as much today as they ever have.

By Kristin Rawls

Once upon a time, labor unions enjoyed a fair amount of political legitimacy among both the public and political elites. While it is true that unions were always a source of concern for capitalist elites and union-busting was always with us, the public generally considered unions mainstream. They had a political voice because regular working- and middle-class people often voted based on their endorsements.

Photo Credit: Matt Gibson / Shutterstock.com
Photo Credit: Matt Gibson / Shutterstock.com
Yet over the last three decades, the power of unions has decreased steadily — especially as a result of the hostility to business regulation that characterized Reagan-era politics of the 1980s, and the anti-communist Cold War propaganda of the time that made the general public more suspicious than ever of labor activism.

But if unions as a whole have taken a reputational hit over the last 30 years, teachers unions in particular have found themselves especially demonized. From being falsely accused of defending sexual predators in schools , to being held ultimately responsible for the “failure” of America’s school system ( a fallacy ), teachers unions have borne the brunt of anti-union sentiment to the point that less than a quarter of the public now believes that teachers unions have a positive effect on schools, with 41% of those recently polled finding the effect to be neither positive nor negative.


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