Unions are funny things, in that they are an organisation where the normal, moderate, member doesn’t really have any incentive to worry about whether the radicals are in charge. If you are a normal teacher, in a normal school, there is not much incentive to get involved in the union – it is just extra work, and extra hours, for which you do not get paid. The people drawn to such jobs are, by their nature, the highly motivated political radicals – and normal teachers are just fine with that. After all, if you ever need the union to come to your aid, who better to do it than the fire-breathing, dictatorship of the workers believing, hard line activist who considers your personal case to be a building block in the eventual path to revolution?
How many teachers are truly represented, after all, by the union member with the #FreePalestine tag and flag in their twitter handle?
One of the proudest moments of my trade union life to date was co-writing and proposing this motion to Congress. Teachers are a conservative bunch but their hearts are brimming with empathy.
Trans people exist, have always existed, will continue to exist. They deserve respect 🏳️⚧️ https://t.co/cv2glxvfgJ
— Jana 🇵🇸 #FreePalestine (@muinteoirjana) April 12, 2023
That’s the pact you make as a union member, these days: You benefit from the radicalism of your union, your union’s radicals in turn benefit from getting to claim that their wackiest ideas represent you.
And so it should not be a surprise, I think, that the delegates of the INTO conference voted this week to debate in secret a motion to condemn the alleged “transphobia” of the Catholic Primary School’s Management Association, because, they told RTE, of the fear of “far right attacks” on their conference. Motions that are overwhelmingly popular with the public, of course, are not famous for having to be debated and passed in secret. The notion that there was any threat of a far right attack on the INTO conference is, to put it kindly, fanciful. And yet, that’s what these people, with a level of paranoia more suited to the main character of Scarface, told RTE.
It should also not be a surprise, sadly, that a motion with the opposite perspective wasn’t even allowed to be debated, as Gary Kavanagh reported this morning. It was ruled out of order instead for “not being inclusive”. Surely, it is up to the delegates to decide what is, and is not, inclusive? But of course, in a union dominated by lefty radicals, you can only be permitted to vote on things if the Union leadership is certain that the vote will produce the “inclusive” result. That’s why members were herded behind closed doors so that their “overwhelming support” for the radical motion could be proclaimed.
All in all, if you’re looking for a reasonable and moderate group of people representative of the middle ground of Irish thought, then there are better places to be this week than at one of the teacher’s union conferences.
The weakness of the radical position, though, is just that: If you are a parent who is concerned about the radical drift of sex education in schools, the sight of some People-before-Profit members voting to call you a transphobe at the Union conference is not massively likely to shift your position. If you are the CPSMA, the sight of MuinteoirJana above denouncing you as transphobic is not so much a new development, as it is just a normal Wednesday. These things amount, usually, to a bit of a social media rallying cry for activists, more than they amount to a meaningful contribution to shifting the national debate, or public opinion.
That said, this is an instructive moment: The interests of teachers unions do not align with the interests of parents and students, and never truly have. They are not called the students union, after all, or the parents union. Their sole purpose is to advance the economic and, it turns out, political interests of a select group of adults. That some of those adults care deeply for the children in their charge is besides the point: You’re more likely to find those teachers taking GAA teams outside of school hours than you are to find them debating motions in secret at the INTO conference.
Nor, truly, is this particularly about the interests of trans children. It is, I suspect, much more about the interests of trans teachers. There have been multiple instances now, in the United States and Canada – those font of all culture wars – of transgender teachers engaging in the overt radicalization of the children in their care, and other instances of transgender teachers wearing highly inappropriate and sexualised clothing to schools. The first step to strangling any outrage about this stuff here in Ireland in the crib is to create a situation where all schools are trans friendly and openly endorse this stuff: A school can hardly object to Mr. Murphy becoming Mrs. Murphy and starting to wear prosthetics into class if that same school has an officially trans inclusive policy for children.
The final point here is that, of course, schools are a battleground in this fight precisely because the left sees the enormous value in indoctrinating, rather than teaching, children: Today’s children are tomorrow’s voters. If you’re a lefty radical in a teacher’s union dreaming of a society where one day a rainbow-bedecked army of the proletariat seizes the means of production, then one of your top goals should be to ensure that the school curriculum is as weighted in the direction of the radical left as possible.
Parents should be alert both to how fringe this agenda is, and how powerfully organised it is. The INTO is nothing to sniff at – the Department of Education takes it seriously, even if nobody else does. And it does not really matter if every opinion poll shows this stuff to be about as popular as Sir Alex Ferguson at Anfield: Most people who answer opinion polls don’t get to have Norma Foley on speedial.
There’s a war on the interests of parents here, and it behooves parents to keep fighting back.