Two of the most powerful unions in the country have voiced objections to a bill that would provide better background checks for teachers, Campbell Brown writes in a Thursday Wall Street Journal column.
After the Government Accountability Office found "hundreds of potential cases of registered sex offenders working in schools" across the United States in 2010, the House passed a bill that would streamline the vetting process and close inconsistencies across state lines.
Recent Stories in Issues
The bill is a common sense measure, according to Campbell, yet powerful teachers unions are opposed to the new standards.
Anyone with violent or sexual convictions against a child—whether a misdemeanor or felony—would be ineligible for school employment. Background checks would be more thorough, using expanded databases including the FBI's fingerprint database, the national and state sex offender registries. And districts would be prohibited from knowingly unloading sex abusers on other schools—a practice known as "pass the trash."
These are sensible measures that are overdue. Yet the two most powerful teachers unions in the country have voiced objections to the bill. Both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers complained about the bill before it passed the House. The NEA claimed in a letter to House members that background checks "often have a huge, racially disparate impact." Randi Weingarten, the AFT chief, warned of inaccuracies in the FBI database and cautioned that teachers would be inconvenienced by potentially long screening delays.