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OPINION: Teachers acting like children



After being involved with politics and public policy for quite a few years, it takes a lot to surprise me. From politicians lavishing taxpayer-funded favors on government insiders to government agencies trying to avoid transparency, it’s tempting to conclude you’ve seen it all before.

But something happened at this week’s board meeting of the Clark County School District that shocked me. Egged on by their union bosses, a handful of teachers acted like petulant children, interrupting the meeting with shouts and even profanities.

One local news station described it this way:

Disruptive teachers at Wednesday night’s board meeting behaved in the same way they tell their students not to. Teachers with CCEA stood in defiance with their backs to speakers and trustees while coughing collectively to drown out the microphone. Trustees barely started to make their case when the teachers started shouting and stormed out of the room in protest.

Before we go any further, it’s important to note that most CCSD teachers are talented and hard-working professionals who undoubtedly are embarrassed by the childish display organized by the union bosses of the Clark County Education Association. And it’s a good sign that even though CCSD has more than 17,000 teachers, union bosses could only round up between 100 and 200 people for this “protest.”

Unfortunately, even a small number of individuals can have a destructive impact. These union officials decided to make a scene, and in doing so they set a terrible example for the hundreds of thousands of students in Clark County. How many students went to school the next day and thought, “If a teacher can interrupt a school board meeting, why can’t I interrupt this class by talking to my friend or not paying attention?”

These union bosses should be ashamed of themselves for instigating such embarrassing behavior, and the teachers who participated ought to feel the same way about playing along.

Of course, shouting down those with whom they disagree is a common tactic for many on the extreme Left. From using physical intimidation, to attempting to censor the speech of their ideological opponents, to resorting to name-calling, what some liberals consider “dialogue” often amounts to simply expecting those who disagree to shut up and fall in line.

Now, NPRI is fully engaged in the battle of ideas. Our studies, commentaries and blog posts offer information, analysis and solutions to the problems Nevada faces and are inspired by a commitment to preserving individual liberty. And we are happy to debate and discuss those ideas on the merits, any time and any place. But we won’t be shouting anyone down.

Union bosses certainly may win some short-term victories through intimidation and disruptions, but I firmly believe that the more the average citizen sees a few union members acting like children, the more he will wonder why our society is rewarding the kind of behavior that would get a child punished.

Andy Matthews is president of the Nevada Policy Research Institute. NPRI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that seeks private solutions to public challenges facing Nevada, the West and the nation.

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