Freedom Foundation

Unions Use PAR to Discourage Teachers From Opting Out

If you’re a teacher in California, you’re already far too familiar with Peer Assistance and Review, most often referred to with the acronym PAR.

The program, like many, was created with good intentions but came with unintended consequences.

The idea was to improve the effectiveness of new and struggling teachers by providing experienced educators for guidance and assistance in teaching strategies, subject matter and other services as needed.

In 1999, PAR was enacted by the California State Legislature and was in place for nearly 10 years. This changed in 2009 when funding was cut for the program due to several factors.

For one, it wasn’t especially successful. There were also a large number of accusations that the program, while good on paper, was actually a way of removing teachers who didn’t agree with the school district or unions on a wide array of issues.

While many teachers rejoiced that PAR could no longer menace their professional lives, this was not the end of the story. In 2012, PAR was reinstated at the behest of teachers’ unions.

According to the CTA website . . .

“PAR has remained high on CTA’s priority list, and is tied to the organization’s long-term strategic plan in the areas of ‘transforming the profession’ and ‘member engagement.’ CTA President Eric Heins encourages CTA chapters to re-establish PAR or expand the scope of existing programs to strengthen the profession.”

It’s the part about “member engagement” that should ring alarm bells. In the wake of this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME making it possible for public employees to opt out of mandatory union dues and fees, CTA clearly sees PAR as a stick with which it can threaten potential defectors.

If a teacher is afraid to lose his or her job, do they really have a choice?

One member of the United Educators of San Francisco (USEF), who called the Freedom Foundation’s hotline anonymously raised just that concern about her union president, Susan Solomon:

“Susan Solomon has PAR completely under her thumb. If she doesn’t like a teacher, or they work against her interests, (teachers) will slowly be reviewed out of their job. She uses it like a weapon against those who do not agree with her world view. How are teachers supposed to exercise their constitutional rights (post-Janus) if they’re afraid of losing their job?”

 

It’s not easy to stand up to bullies, especially when they control your employment. To every teacher who may be considering opting out and is afraid of retaliation, the Freedom Foundation has your back.

Unlike big unions, the Freedom Foundation believes everyone has the right to exercise their constitutional rights without the fear of retaliation.