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JOSHUA BANDOCH: How To Control A Whole State In Three Easy Steps

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Joshua Bandoch Contributor
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Illinois public-sector unions are perfecting and promulgating a model for subjugating Americans to union interests. Their model has three steps: control the kids, control politicians and control the law. It’s highly effective, and toxic to the future of any state that embraces it.

Kids are at the heart of Illinois unions’ domination strategy. After all, in “Animal Farm,” Napoleon the pig (representing Josef Stalin) says, “education of the young was more important than anything that could be done for those who were already grown up.

Illinois strives to be avant-garde in controlling kids through forced consumption of pro-union propaganda in schools. Behold House Bill 4417, in many ways the logical consequence of years of union domination.

This bill, which is currently working its way through Illinois’ House of Representatives, would force all public high schools to “designate and observe ‘Workplace Readiness Week.’”

This innocuous-sounding bill is sinister. Rather than preparing high school students to communicate professionally or interview successfully, students would be forced to consume information on the right to organize a union. Schools can even spread this propaganda “during special events after regular school hours.” Perhaps the next step will be testing students on their ability to regurgitate this pro-union propaganda accurately.

The pathology runs far deeper, especially with the Chicago Teachers Union.

Chicago public schools are a picture of inequity. The 2023 Illinois Report Card revealed that on the SAT, only 22.3% of 11th grade students met or exceeded proficiency levels in reading, and 19.1% achieved proficiency in math. Chronic absenteeism was 40%. Despite all that, the graduation rate was 83%. (RELATED: BRYCE HILL: It’s Business As Usual For Politicians In This Blue State. Meanwhile, Residents Flee In Droves)

How would a power-hungry union address this injustice? Force more students into failing schools.

In 2023, CTU’s hallmark achievement wasn’t improving educational outcomes to empower students to rise. It was ripping school choice away from poor minority students by killing the Invest In Kids scholarship program, a program supported by 71% of black voters and 81% of Hispanic voters.

The face of their campaign was Chicago Teachers’ Union President Stacy Davis Gates. Because she’s rich (she makes nearly $300,000 year, on top of her husband’s salary), she can afford to send her oldest son to Catholic school so he can “live out his dream.” If you’re poor? Then no choice – and no dreaming – for you.

Killing Invest in Kids has already resulted in four other Catholic schools announcing their closure in 2024. More broken dreams.

As an encore to killing Invest in Kids, CTU supported the passage in December 2023 of a Chicago Board of Education resolution establishing a five-year plan to investigate eliminating selective enrollment schools, a form of public school choice. Because the majority of these schools perform on average significantly better than Chicago public schools in the same neighborhoods, they shine light on the reality that CTU bears blame for the failure of Chicago Public Schools. What to do? Try to kill them, too. Forced equity.

Plank two involves controlling politicians. Since 2010, teachers unions have given over $21 million to sitting state lawmakers. To bury Invest in Kids, starting in June 2023 unions spent over $1.5 million.

While CTU owns Springfield, it runs Chicago – literally.

Before becoming mayor in May 2023, Brandon Johnson was “legislative coordinator” for CTU, receiving over $75,000 last fiscal year alone, all while actively campaigning for mayor. CTU and its state and local affiliates gave Johnson over $5.7 million before he became mayor. All told, only 17% of CTU’s spending went to representing members in its 2023 fiscal year, and political spending tripled under Davis Gates, according to the union’s own reports with the U.S. Department of Labor.

With negotiations for CTU’s next contract coming up this summer, they’re almost certainly expecting to be richly rewarded for their political “investments” with a lucrative new contract. (RELATED: MAILEE SMITH: Despite Being Knocked Down By SCOTUS Nearly Five Years Ago, Unions Keep Digging In Their Heels)

Plank three involves controlling the courts by enshrining union supremacy in state law.

In November 2022, unions secured passage of Amendment 1, which vastly expanded union power. It established a “fundamental right” to organize; broadens bargaining rights to include “economic welfare;” ties lawmakers’ hands by forbidding the passage of any law “that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively over their wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment and work place safety;” and forbids right-to-work laws in Illinois.

Unlike Las Vegas, what happens in Illinois doesn’t stay in Illinois. Unions are already attempting to export Amendment 1 to California and Pennsylvania.

Americans need to behold – and beware – Illinois’ union dystopia. Otherwise, it will spread its dark shadow far and wide.

Joshua Bandoch is head of policy of the Illinois Policy Institute.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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