Labor Leaders Want a Rosy Picture of Labor History Taught in Public Schools
Instead of focusing limited school time on core subjects – like math, science, reading, and writing – union officials and their allies continue to try their best to squeeze labor history into an already crowded social studies curriculum, the Associated Press reports.
For the third consecutive year, legislation introduced in Connecticut to encourage labor history lessons recently failed to become law, “even after supporters agreed to a compromise to include lessons in the history of capitalism,” according to the news service.
“We’re losing a generation of workers who don’t have an understanding about the union movement,” Steve Kass, board member for the Greater New Haven Labor History Association, told the AP.
Ed Leavy, an official with the American Federation of Teachers Connecticut, tried to flip the unions’ obvious motivation to increase membership through glorified labor history lessons.
“It’s not that labor unions are demanding this so we can increase the ranks,” he said. “It’s people preventing this so we don’t.”
International tests show U.S. students are continuing to fall behind their peers in other developed countries, particularly in important subjects like math and science, yet unions view the lack of labor history instruction as major problem.
The fact is that American History classes have always included lessons about the labor movement and its role in American society in the early 20th century.
But more detailed lessons about organized labor – taught by a unionized teaching force that’s led by wildly liberal union bosses – would undoubtedly paint a very rosy picture of how unions grew into the largest political force in the country, with little mention of the numerous atrocities and economic upheaval they’ve left in their wake.
Teachers unions and other unions understand that a growing number of Americans would prefer to do without their “services,” and indoctrinating another generation of citizens likely is the only way to stop the continued decline of unionized workers.
Lawmakers and taxpayers in most states, fortunately, are focused on far more important matters, as only Delaware and California encourage schools to teach lessons on labor.
“Various versions of labor history legislation have failed over the years in Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Legislation also failed calling for labor history and collective bargaining to be taught in Vermont,” the AP reports.
Opposition to the labor history lessons is driven mostly by education reform advocates, lawmakers and business groups that are concerned over class time being diverted from core subjects. Most believe the time would be much better spent working to close a persistent achievement gap between white and minority students.
Many teachers have also rejected the labor history legislation, and would prefer to keep curriculum decisions on the local level.
“In general, I’m opposed to all this top-down legislation,” Connecticut math teacher Joshua Katz told the AP.