A View From 30,000 Feet

District 281 is not populated by bad people.  But, it is represented by MFT, the Minnesota Federation of Teachers.  The district cannot conduct business without the blessing of the union.  The union sets the pay scales, the benefit packages, influences school curricula and, to a large measure, elects the candidates for the school board. 

Like most districts, 281 relies on MFT to keep day-to-day operations running.  If the union decides to go on strike for whatever reason, the district and the school board members will fall out of favor with their customers, the taxpayers of the district. 

In this scenario no one wins. 

Or do they?

Imagine if you would, MFT making demands which could simply not be agreed to.  Imagine they went on strike.  Instead of rows of buses lining up at school house doors we began our school year with picket signs and teachers walking the lines.  Imagine, too, the strike was not resolved in short order and was ongoing, with each party at an impasse. 

Imagine the disruption for parents who would have to scramble for emergency daycare for their kids and the angry citizens talking in backyards and street corners about the way A) the teachers are getting screwed or, B) the taxpayers are getting screwed.

As a parent, what would you do?  On which side of the debate would you fall?  Would you seek to open-enroll your child in another district?  Would you home school?  Would you talk to your church (assuming you have one) about enrolling your child in a faith-based school?  Would you look to enroll your child online?

District 281, in concert with the unions and the educational establishment, have parents painted into a corner.  It is only a matter of time before MFT makes another play for more money or more benefits.  What will be your response?  Would you march across the street from the picketers in a counter-demonstration?  Would you storm the school board and demand A) the district give the teachers what they want or, B) the ability to place your child in a private/charter/home or religious school?

Is this scenario even possible?  If it is, how far off into the future do you see us reaching a tipping point between schools and parents?  Five years?  Ten years?  Tomorrow?  Can you foresee a time when taxpayers will draw a line in the sand and bounce every politician in the state out of office if they don’t support true school choice?

Now, take all this “supposin’” and consider that the new Republican-led House and Senate are considering freezing teacher pay in order to balance the budget and bring some sanity back into the K-12 equation.

Is this example still pure fantasy?  Or, is it inevitable?

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