Source: The Epoch Times
Author: Catherine Yangn
Date: October 30, 2019
“Rebecca Friedrichs has a strong sense of justice. It’s what led her to decide to want to be a teacher at the age of 12. It’s also what informed her philosophy as a teacher for nearly three decades, and it’s why she made the difficult decision to stop teaching in order to rescue teachers across the nation from the culture of fear and isolation instituted by teachers unions.
“Teachers have been deceived. They’ve been told that the union is not the problem, the union is their savior, that the administrators and legislators and the school board are the problem, and the parents are the problem. And the union is going to save them,” Friedrichs said.
“What they don’t realize is that their union is the one who put into office the problem legislators, the problem school boards, and those school boards control the problem administrators.”
Teachers, already under tremendous pressure and stress, don’t exactly have the time to do the detective work to discover who is at the bottom of the discipline problems at the school or the problematic curriculum they’re now forced to use. But Friedrichs has connected the dots, and now she wants to get the word out.
…Finding the Big Picture
Friedrichs first witnessed the power of unions early on, even before she was a full-fledged teacher.
As a student teacher, she had a wonderful mentor. But right next door there was a teacher she thought of as “The Witch,” because she would yell and handle the small children in her classroom in a way that was downright abusive. When Friedrichs inquired about filing some sort of complaint, she soon learned that unions had secured that teacher’s tenure, and she could not be fired.
Friedrichs would later learn from another teacher who had been on campus at the same time that this was not an isolated event. That person, too, worked near an abusive teacher who could not be fired.
The book demystifies, chapter by chapter, the stunning myriad of ways that state and national teachers unions can affect schools on the ground level, and many of those ways can come as a surprise. The lack of qualified STEM teachers, the rise of in-school bullying, the radicalization of children, and mass political protests that have nothing to do with education have odd and disturbing ties to these unions.
For instance, the new sex-education curriculum plans that teach how-to’s to 11-year-olds, and have horrified parents who belatedly discovered the content because of the way the material was secretly introduced, was pushed for by these unions. The curriculum contains content so explicit that it can’t be repeated here, but it’s in the book. Friedrichs herself said that as she was writing the chapter, she had to get up and pace the house because the level of abuse on our children was so disturbing, but people needed to know it’s happening.
“They’re changing our history, they’ve undermined our science, they’ve undermined discipline. In most states, parents don’t have the right to see the child’s medical records after age 14—all kinds of stuff unions have pushed off the backs of teachers,” she said.
…Teachers Seek Solutions
But it turns out, teachers tend to be fantastic problem solvers.
Friedrichs notes many cases of teachers finding on-the-grounds solutions to the everyday problems they face—but the stories have similar chilling endings. Despite the progress, at some point the unions come in and shut it down.
One such teacher was Aaron Benner, a beloved teacher who taught at a predominantly black public school campus with severe discipline problems. He started a football program during his lunch break, where students learned to live by the motto “Win gracefully, lose gracefully.”
One day, an angry child punched Benner and refused to calm down. Benner took him to the principal’s office, but discovered the student would not be punished. Even the other students thought something wasn’t right.
Benner later found out that their state had paid millions to a consulting firm to come up with a racial equity strategy in schools. He found it full of misleading information, suggesting teachers were punishing students for race, rather than behavior. There were directives from the Obama administration to lower suspension rates for students of color. Racial equity, rather than implementing discipline strategies that work, means often not punishing students who are disruptive.
But what did this have to do with unions?
As Benner dug deeper, he discovered the racial equity strategy was bargained for by the teachers union—without many teachers in his district even being aware of this. The union had then hired a consultancy to train every employee in the school district to check their “systemic racism.”
He saw wonderful female teachers quit because they faced such physical threat, and if they were white, they would always be accused of being racist. He said a teacher nearly got killed in the district, and instead of marching against violence or having policies that would have protected him, the unions used him as a bargaining chip to bring in more money. He was personally reprimanded for informing a mother when he saw her fourth-grade daughter get punched in the face and knocked out by a boy.
Benner was outspoken, and as a result, he was hit with a series of investigations, including a false claim of harassment. He had paid his union dues, so he did what every teacher would in the situation and turned to the union for representation. The union told him to plead guilty to the faulty claim. He wouldn’t. When Benner later got fed up and said he was going to the press, a representative said not to, because it would make them “look bad.”
As a result, the school lost a great teacher. Benner resigned and later accepted a position as a dean in a private school.
Friedrichs has discovered that unions use four manipulation tactics to keep teachers in line: fear, intimidation, isolation, and ignorance.
“The unions are not only using billions annually provided by teachers tax-free, but they’re also bullying teachers to be boots on the ground for their agenda, including these Red for Ed teacher strikes. Just completely bullying the entire country. Bullying every legislator, bullying every school board, bullying every parent, through teachers,” she said.
There are stories of union leadership screaming at teachers for voicing their opinion or even asking an innocent question about whether this policy will benefit everyone, and the result, time and again, is that teachers learn to be silent. Friedrichs recalled one such instance at a California Teachers Association conference, where ironically there was also a “Bullying 101” workshop available meant to help teachers address campus bullying.
They also now control the parent-teacher associations (PTA), which are now not allowed to be anything but “neutral” on policy, and have very effectively taken parents out of the equation—a move good teachers do not support. Unions are so effective at fearmongering and rallying outrage that one parent trying to improve things through her school board opened her front door one day to find that her front lawn had been stuck with forks, tongs-up, and covered in toilet paper. Her young children could have been seriously injured had they stepped out onto the lawn.
“The hardest part—the word union is a positive word,” she said. “There’s a double whammy because they’re standing behind the profession of teacher, which is highly respected, and standing behind the label of union, which is highly respected. But they’re neither one,” she said. “They’re really political action committees for a radical socialist agenda.”
…Her 2 Cents
Friedrichs had wanted to be a teacher ever since she was about 12 years old.
She remembered that as a student, teachers would often give information, but not the big picture. Things were taught in isolation, or information would be skipped, and she’d feel lost even though she was a top student.
“I just wanted to help children to understand better. I love that process,” Friedrichs said. “Making something that could seem difficult seem easy. And I just loved it, absolutely loved it. People would ask me, ‘Oh, how can you stand being with little kids all day?’ It was the best job in the whole wide world. I absolutely loved it.”
Friedrichs would get students reading five years below grade level, students labeled “deficit” or “disorder” as her father had been, but she would see that with good education they learned to love reading and love learning.
For Friedrichs, being a teacher meant you were called to service, to be a servant leader. It meant high integrity, honesty, and working very hard to present the truth, and inspire in children lifelong learning, as well as to give them the tools to do so.
…Adopt a Teacher
Throughout Friedrichs’s activism, she was still teaching. But while she wrote editorials at home and gave interviews to the press, she shut up about it at school.
“I never talked about it at work. At work, I was a teacher, I was there for the kids, I supported my colleagues, and this didn’t come up,” she said.
But the teachers who knew what she was doing would reach out to her secretly. They’d send private emails at home, or have clandestine meetings at the coffee shop because they were so terrified they might be seen with her.
“Teachers are terrified. They’re so bullied. You don’t dare speak against the union. If you say something against the union, it will ruin you,” she said.
“The most common question people ask me is if I’m afraid for my life, so that tells you something about how fearful people are,” Friedrichs said….”
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