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Can teachers’ unions really speak for the majority of teachers? The media speaks to teachers’ union officials when they want to know what teachers think about schools reopening, and they take them at their word when the unions say most teachers don’t want schools to reopen because they’re afraid of the spread of covid-19.  But have the unions or the media asked teachers what they think? Do teachers feel like they can speak out in open opposition to what the unions say?

In a recent article by Americans for Fair Treatment, several teachers in New York and Pennsylvania spoke out about what is going on in their school districts. In all but one instance, they said the unions had not asked teachers for their opinions on schools reopening. In that one case, it was just once at the beginning of the pandemic. These teachers and many of their coworkers feel like they can’t speak out for fear of being demonized or ostracized. In Chicago, when teachers finally had a chance to vote on a school reopening plan proposed by the city, and panned by the union, they voted overwhelmingly in favor.

When you see teacher union talking points, please remember, it’s not the whole story.

Suzanne Bates

Suzanne Bates is Senior Writer and Researcher with Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector workers offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2020, Suzanne worked as a journalist for the Associated Press, as Policy Director with the Yankee Institute, as a contributor for The Hartford Courant, and as a regular commentator for WNPR’s The Wheelhouse.