Even before she attended the Freedom Foundation’s first-ever Teacher Freedom Summit during July in Denver, Colo., Peggy Nguyen had a burning desire to expose the truth about the radical policies of the California Teachers Association (CTA) and the National Education Association (NEA).
When she began teaching in 1996, the Orange County, Calif., resident was stunned to discover union dues were being deducted from her paychecks even though her permission to do so had never even been sought, let alone granted.
Unfortunately, because the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME banning mandatory union membership and dues was years away, there was almost nothing she could do to revoke the dues and keep her hard-earned money.
Moreover, Nguyen’s co-workers assured her the union had value because it would be there for her if she ever got into trouble.
“Why would I ever get in trouble?” she wondered.
It wasn’t until she was promoted to administration that Nguyen began to see behind the union’s carefully constructed façade. At that time, she supervised several dozen teachers and had to deal with union representatives who ultimately protected underperforming teachers.
She recalled, “I’ve always been a good teacher. I do my job well teaching kids content, including how to read and do math and citizenship, and I utilize the curriculum and assessments effectively where student growth and learning is evident.
“I’m a leader on campus,” she continued, “and I take on multiple roles at school. Then there are some teachers who are none of those things, yet they still have the same job, same pay and same benefits as the rest of us who earned it. It can be demoralizing as it is frustrating that the union is there to protect their job. Any other profession, you wouldn’t have a job anymore if you didn’t do it well.”
After her time in administration, she decided to go back to teaching full-time, and since her return to the classroom, Nguyen has seen a greater shift towards radical policies coming down from the union.
Following the Janus decision, she was one of the first teachers to disassociate from the union. Despite her reservations about CTA and the NEA, Nguyen acknowledges the work her local union does to fight for her compensation and benefits, and she appreciates its effort. However, the NEA’s terms of affiliation and unified dues structure means that a teacher is either a member of every level of the NEA—local, state and national—or none at all; ceasing financial support for only the national and state NEA affiliates is not permitted.
Consequently, Nguyen has chosen to not contribute to the funding of a radical union that dictates to their members who and what to vote for. These high-profile unions are notorious for backing agendas that encourage radical polices such as the transitioning of children and school closures.
Virtually everything the unions want, she believes, would harm children’s lives and education.
While at the Teacher Freedom Summit, Nguyen was able to network with like-minded teachers and equip herself with factual evidence showing how these unions’ dues get laundered into political influence – influence she emphatically does not support.
Within the week after the conference, Nguyen was able to organize 16 fellow teachers to participate in a virtual conference hosted by the Freedom Foundation in which they learned about their right to cancel their union membership. Nguyen continues to inform others about the Freedom Foundation’s mission across the country.
It’s teachers like her who inspire and validate our work.