Steve Hinnefeld: ‘Deregulation’ bill is about sidelining unions
Writing in Indiana, Steve Hinnefeld points out the real motivation behind the latest push to “deregulate” education.
I have to pull out the Henry Adams quote at least once every session of the Indiana General Assembly: “Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.”
How else do you explain Senate Bill 486, an “education deregulation” bill that seems to be largely about punishing the Indiana State Teachers Association and the Indiana Federation of Teachers.
The measure does include some deregulation, but a key component would repeal current law that gives teachers, through their unions, a voice in how their schools operate. Blocking it has become the top priority for the ISTA and IFT, which brought hundreds of teachers to the Statehouse last week to protest.
Why would the Republican supermajority want to punish the unions? Well, because they support Democrats. The ISTA’s political action committee spent over $1 million in the 2022 election year, much of it to assist Democratic legislative candidates. No one else comes close when it comes to supporting the party.
The GOP has chipped away at union strength since they took control of all branches of state government 13 years ago. A big blow came in 2011, when lawmakers decreed that collective bargaining could cover only salaries and pay-related fringe benefits, not working conditions. They have also adopted so-called right-to-work rules and outlawed “fair share fees” for teachers who won’t pay for union benefits.
SB 486 would eliminate a requirement that school districts engage in discussion with their local unions of a range of topics regarding teachers’ working conditions – which, the unions argue, are often students’ learning conditions. Discussion is required regarding curriculum, teaching methods, hiring and promotion criteria, student discipline, class size, etc.
Keep in mind this is merely discussion, not collective bargaining. Teachers can request changes but can’t demand them. Discussion subjects can’t be included in teacher contracts.