Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Constitutional Class Sizes

The Miami Herald reports that Florida’s statewide teachers union has filed a lawsuit to stop the state from counting votes on a constitutional amendment that would alter class sizes in the state.

A lawyer for Florida’s statewide teachers union asked a judge Wednesday to block the counting of votes cast on the Legislature’s proposed state constitutional amendment to loosen class size limits. …

Meyer argued Amendment 8’s ballot summary and title are unclear, ambiguous and misleading because they fail to say the proposal’s chief purpose is to change school funding. The Florida Constitution now requires the Legislature to “make adequate provision” for meeting the class size requirements.

What’s interesting here is that the state of Florida has actually written into its constitution the number of students who should be in classrooms. The union fought hard to pass an initiative that capped class sizes at 18 for first through third grades, 22 in fourth through eighth, and 25 in ninth through twelfth. This is literally in Florida’s state constitution. This kind of micromanagement is kind of mind-blowing, but given the power of the state’s teachers unions, it’s not terribly surprising. Allow me to explain.

The union claims that they just want to see kids get the best education possible, and small class sizes are the key to accomplishing that. Experts might disagree – most point to teacher quality as the single most important key to student success outside of said student’s home life – but let’s leave that aside for the moment. What teachers unions are really interested in is collecting more dues. How do they collect more dues? By having more teachers on the payroll. How does one get more teachers on the payroll? Why, mandate incredibly small class sizes, of course!

It’s an interesting shell game, one that we’ve seen play out recently in the “teacher bailout” pushed for by President Obama; the Wall Street Journal reported that the $10 billion subsidy to states to keep them from laying off teachers led to at least $100 million in additional dues for the National Education Association.

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