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Ron DeSantis Proposal Will Make Educators Decide if Teachers’ Unions are ‘Worth The Money’

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  • Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis promised to sign legislation based on his latest education proposal which would require educators to pay their teachers’ union dues themselves, rather than taking them automatically from their paycheck. 
  • This aspect of the plan would encourage educators to leave the teachers’ unions as they would have to consider the payment each month, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation. 
  • “If teachers had to write the check directly to the union they will be more likely to question every month if it’s really worth the money,” Laura Zorc, a former Florida school board member executive director of Building Education for Students Together, a group focused on parental rights in education, told the DCNF.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis promised on Monday to make it a priority to push for and sign legislation that could give educators an opportunity to truly decide if they want to be a part of a teachers’ union.

As a part of his “Freedom Blueprint” education plan, DeSantis said at an education retreat on Monday that during the 2023 legislative session he aims to advocate for legislation that would no longer require teachers’ union dues be taken directly out of educators’ paychecks, obligating educators to pay their union dues themselves. This aspect of the proposal would require teachers to make a more conscious decision about whether they want to opt in to teachers’ unions and possibly encourage teachers to leave the union, experts told the DCNF.

“If teachers had to write the check directly to the union they will be more likely to question every month if it’s really worth the money,” Laura Zorc, a former Florida school board member and executive director of Building Education for Students Together, a group focused on parental rights in education, told the DCNF. “Once forced with this decision many will realize it’s a waste of money and pocket their own hard earned cash.”

By asking teachers to pay the union themselves, the legislation would keep money from going to teachers’ unions and their spending plans, DeSantis said on Monday; teachers’ unions have been notorious for entering political races as in the 2021-2022 school year, the nation’s two largest teachers’ unions, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), spent millions on funding political left-wing groups.

“It’s more of a guarantee that the money is actually going to go to teachers and not be frittered away by interest groups who get involved in the school system,” DeSantis said on Monday.

The move by DeSantis comes as teachers’ unions are helping school districts implement Critical Race Theory and gender identity lessons using summer reading lists and curricula.

In August, the National Education Association recommended students read “Why We Fly,” a book about students protesting the national anthem by kneeling for it, as their summer reading. The Ohio chapter of the National Education Association provided educators with badges in September which signified to students which teachers were LGBTQ “allies.”

The “Freedom Blueprint” draws comparisons to HB 1197, a piece of Florida legislation considered in 2021 that also removed the option for teachers’ union members to have their dues automatically drawn from their paychecks.

“It puts big government between educators and their constitutionally guaranteed right to join in union to advocate for their students and profession,” Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, said about HB 1197, according to Business Insider.

Giving educators the opportunity to pay their dues on their own will protect teachers and allow money to go toward their own interests, rather than those of the teachers’ unions, Elisabeth Messenger, interim CEO of Americans for Fair Treatment, a group focused on educating employees on their rights within unions, told the DCNF.

“Automatic dues deduction uses government resources to make it easier for unions to recruit and retain members and creates confusion for workers who may think their workplace union is endorsed by their employer or that membership is required by their employer,” Messenger told the DCNF. “In signing this legislation, Governor DeSantis would be taking a huge step in protecting teachers’ private information and ensuring the Florida state government is not a middleman in funding partisan politics.”

DeSantis’ office referred the DCNF to his Monday remarks and the NEA, AFT and Florida Education Association did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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