Washington Libertarian Review

Political commentary from the State of Washington with a libertarian perspective.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Outlawing Teacher Strikes

Peter Callaghan argues teacher strikes add up to harm for communities that justifies anti-strike legislation for teachers.

Citing to a bill introduced last year by Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-Snohomish), Callaghan argues teachers should be required to work without contracts and submit to binding arbitration, as the police and fire fighters already have to do. Education, according to Callaghan, is as important as public safety.

But this is a solution looking for a problem. Rarely is there more than one teacher strike in any one year, if there is any at all. The last teacher strike in the state, in Marysville, was in 2003.

More important, it can lead to increases in the state role in education in unintended ways. Public safety and public education are more different than they are alike. While the role of government in public safety is primarily to prevent harm, the role of government in education is to confer a benefit.

The public safety role is already leading to, in this writer's opinion, serious losses of fundamental rights and unwarranted invasions of privacy, all in the name of fighting terrorism. If public education is important enough to compromise the rights of teachers to strike, how long will it be before somebody argues it is important enough to (further) compromise the rights of parents and students?


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