“This starts my 31st year teaching physical education. I started my high school career at Romeoville and was hired at Glenbard South in 2000. During this time I’ve coached wrestling, football and girls track.”

“When my local Glenbard union, which is an offshoot of the National Education Association, started advancing curriculum based on race, I began to question whether to stay or join the non-partisan Association of American Educators.”

“The last straw for me was the minority [Advanced Placement] curriculum push, which encountered little or no pushback from the union. The new curriculum, in my opinion, only hurt student performance because some students weren’t prepared for AP classes. There wasn’t a true skill evaluation but a simple race standard, which I saw hurt several students’ athletic eligibility.”

“It was basically a push to place kids of color into classes regardless of their skill level, instead of just looking for individual kids who could excel. The kids started failing or the standards were dropped, and neither the administration nor union saw the harm. The union didn’t stand up against this and the administration just rammed this initiative down our throats. In the end, kids were harmed.”

“As a casualty of the AP push, our technology program requirement was reduced from two years to one. This neglected certain students who would’ve benefited from the trade programs. I saw the new curriculum as just pushing kids into AP classes to improve the diversity numbers, which cut other options that may have better suited certain students.”

“In my mind a union’s purpose is to negotiate salaries and curriculum, yet my union neglected the students’ best interests with the AP push and became increasingly partisan from NEA initiatives.”

“Around 2015, the local really got involved in the governor’s race. Some teachers crossed primary lines to help one candidate win, then crossed back to vote against that candidate. I saw that as corrupt and the leadership didn’t speak up against it. In addition, locally endorsing school board members has become very political. It just seems like a conflict of interest to help hire people that would be negotiating your salary.”

“When [Mark] Janus won his Supreme Court case, I felt it was time to move on. I didn’t have anything in common with the national and the local union leadership. They just wouldn’t push back on harmful policy. So I decided to opt out.”

“My local union tried to tell me there were no other alternatives, and I wouldn’t have any legal protection if I opted out. But I did my research and found the Association of American Educators, which provides professional education liability insurance and is non-partisan.”

“It really came down to this for me: the national union is partisan and the local union stopped opposing, what I consider, bad curriculum policy that has harmed students.”

Derrick Crenshaw
Teacher
Glen Ellyn, Illinois