Repealing Idaho’s Right to Work law would be a mistake for teachers. According to the American Federation of Teachers, Idaho public school teachers make basically the same cost-of-living adjusted earnings as Washington teachers (who must pay compulsory union dues to teach) without being forced to pay excessive union dues.
Frankly, monopoly unions (NEA and AFT) have not done a stellar job of improving teacher pay! Alveda King, former public school teacher and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., writes that "From 1970 to 1995, when adjusted for inflation . . . teacher pay indexed to per-pupil expenditures in the public schools declined by nearly 50%! . . . Had the NEA and AFT simply kept our share of the education pie where it was in 1970 (before unions infiltrated teaching), then today, the average teacher salary would exceed $65,000!"
Idaho educators need the options that the right-to-work law ensures—not mandatory union dues. Northwest Professional Educators (NWPE), a nonprofit professional educators organization serving Washington and Idaho, provides an option. NWPE believes that education will be improved if 1) we focus on students as our highest priority, and, 2) educators are free from compulsory unionism.
Clearly, all teachers want the security of knowing that they will have assistance if they become vulnerable to school/union politics, abusive administrators, or out-of-the-blue accusations by students or parents. In that regard, NWPE provides Idaho educators with excellent legal services, liability insurance, professional development, and more while simultaneously respecting their values and freedoms.
—Ed Dawson, President of Northwest Professional Educators (www.nwpe.org), is a high school German and Spanish teacher in Battle Ground School District, Vancouver, WA. He has a law degree from Western State University, College of Law, and taught Personnel Management at Yavapai College, Prescott, AZ.