by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As labor groups across the country impose a laundry list of preconditions to reopen public schools, just 5 percent of parents say teachers’ unions should have the final say on a return to in-person learning.
A poll of 1,002 parents shows that teachers’ unions rank among the least-trusted groups to make decisions on school reopenings and general “learning needs.” Just 2 percent of parents report trusting teachers’ unions most to “make good decisions” about how “schools should be educating students.” When it comes to who should make the “final decision” on a return to in-person learning, parents rank teachers’ unions second-to-last, just 1 point higher than the children themselves.
Despite parents’ misgivings, many major U.S. school districts continue to delay in-person learning due to union demands. In California, Democratic governor Gavin Newsom planned to open schools first by mid-February and later by the end of March. But both proposals failed in the state’s largest district following pushback from United Teachers Los Angeles. The powerful union derided the reopening push as a “recipe for propagating structural racism.” Union leaders reached a deal Tuesday night to return to the classroom in mid-April under one condition—that all teachers receive two vaccine doses first, a stipulation that contradicts CDC guidelines.
While teachers’ unions historically boast strong ties to the Democratic Party, 41 percent of poll respondents identified as Democrats compared to just 27 percent who identified as Republicans. The figure could cause concern for President Joe Biden, who has drawn ire from critics over his longstanding relationships with top union leaders. The Democrat raked in more than $225,000 from teachers’ unions in the 2020 election cycle—more than any other candidate—and received endorsements from the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers. The two unions also gave millions to super PACs supporting Biden.