Excellent Protection and Legal Services for Educators

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We live in a litigious society.  As an educator or school employee, you should be keenly aware that professional liability insurance is critical because district coverage may not protect you individually.  It is dangerous and potentially career-threatening if you enter a public-school classroom without liability or legal protection.    Professional Educators of Tennessee handles legal issues in a positive, professional and confidential manner, without fanfare or publicity. Our members do not want undue publicity that can damage their case or their reputations. That is why you rarely read or hear about our members’ legal problems in the media.

Due to their unique role, educators face exposure to liability much greater than does the average citizen and therefore must exercise a higher duty of care than most professionals. Nearly every day teachers must deal with diverse laws related to issues such as child abuse, student discipline, negligence, defamation, student records, and copyright infringement. Tennessee teachers often cite professional liability insurance as a major reason for becoming a member, and rightly so.  Professional Educators of Tennessee offers educators high-quality legal protection and professional liability insurance, at a fraction of the cost of labor unions.  Our educators’ professional liability insurance is unmatched in Tennessee.

As an educator, you are also a consumer, and you expect and deserve quality services at an affordable price.  Our dues at Professional Educators of Tennessee are currently $189. Contrast that with the roughly $600 or more that you are asked to pay for union dues and you will quickly realize not only cost savings but also more liability protection.  We are less expensive because we are not part of a national organization – money collected is used on organizational goals and stays here in Tennessee.  Politically, we are non-partisan. Your dues will never be utilized as political campaign contributions or to support social issue causes unrelated to education. That alone saves our members money   Teachers’ unions engage in aggressive political partisanship and promote a wide-ranging social agenda on issues unrelated to education, often not reflective of the diverse political views of their broader membership.

Bad things happen to good educators every day. There are certainly increased risks for educators targeted by civil lawsuits.   School districts are spending more on litigation costs and frivolous lawsuits.  Educators need excellent liability coverage to cover inadvertent mistakes that could possibly happen.  It’s is better to be proactive by being a member of Professional Educators of Tennessee, as countless teachers discover during the school year.  In today’s society, false allegations can also occur, and with the prevalence of cell phones and social media, this has made educators even more vulnerable.

There are unnecessary lawsuits filed every year with allegations that have little basis in fact. The American legal system makes it easy to file a lawsuit regardless of the merit of the case. Unfortunately, public schools always will be susceptible to legal challenges, and we will never eliminate all lawsuits.  That is why you need professional liability coverage so that you can focus on your job as an educator, and not matters out of your control. When allegations are made, or worse charges are filed, teachers may not be able to count on the backing of a school system or elected official.  You need an organization to stand behind you, preferably one without a partisan agenda.  Our legal resources, including attorneys who know education law are available to assist members with employment concerns. Our legal services team is a phone call away to answer any school-employment questions.

Only Professional Educators of Tennessee offers the peace of mind of $2 Million per member per occurrence, coverage for coaching, tutoring & private instruction, and up to $35,000 for Criminal Acts—and your coverage is never dependent on the discretion/pre-approval of a union boss,  Access to your legal protection is not dependent upon whether your case is determined to be in the best interest of Professional Educators of Tennessee.

As with many professions requiring a state license, the teaching profession—like law and medicine—is governed by a code of ethics. This code outlines standards of personal and professional conduct that you, a member of the profession, must uphold. Violating a standard can have serious consequences for your teaching license.   In addition, in 2018 the state added new laws regarding Teacher Ethics and Teacher Misconduct.  Districts are now required to offer annual training in ethics.   Our organization has partnered with the state to offer online ethics training to our members and other educators.

Unlike other organizations, where employment protection is discretionary, Professional Educators of Tennessee has no committee or group of people who will decide whether or not you will be represented should you face such an employment situation. This coverage saves our members thousands of dollars in legal fees every year and provides immeasurable peace of mind.

Our counseling philosophy is the best way to avoid having a situation escalate to a legal problem and only requires you to call us before the situation gets out of hand. It is very important to know your legal rights and responsibilities. Your membership with Professional Educators of Tennessee and our working relationship with you ensures your rights are not only realized but protected.

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When you have a job-related legal question or concern that may have legal implications, make your first call to Professional Educators of Tennessee or email legal@proedtn.org.  Speaking to an in-house attorney is the best and most efficient way to avoid having a situation escalate into a legal problem. It is critical that you know your legal rights and responsibilities. Your membership with Professional Educators of Tennessee ensures that you will be informed without delay. We are here to help and support our members.

A Modern Approach to Educator Representation

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I recently read a fantastic editorial by political strategist and analyst, Steve Gill, on the National Education Association, The Californication of the Teachers’ Union.  The article sheds much light on the union, the amplified influence by more liberal state affiliates like New York and California of the National Education Association, which makes them “loyal foot soldiers to advance liberal extremism.”  Mr. Gill makes a compelling case, and it is well worth the read.  I would have added:

  1. NEA and its affiliates had money difficulties well before the Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME. As Mike Antonucci writes: The union “ability to adapt to a new environment depends less on their political and organizing skills and more on their willingness to reform themselves financially.”  So, why are union bosses seeing their salary continue to increase?
  2. Teacher Unions continue to put roadblocks in place to prevent their members from exercising their freedom of association. Often, they will use any legal means at their disposal to combat members who want to resign. Take, for example, the difficulty in terminating automatic drafts to pay membership dues. Unions often place a narrow window of opportunity for employees to drop union membership and escape the requirement of paying union dues or fees. For educators, that date may be limited to summer months and are designed to be inconveniently timed for members. In addition, unions blatantly will contribute to political candidates.
  3. When it comes to a private entity making a killing from public education, the teachers’ unions have the market cornered. The next time you hear a union boss talk about “privatizers” who seek to profit from public education, point out for them that “union leaders neglect to point out that teachers’ unions are themselves de facto corporations, though with a difference: all their income—money they get from teachers, voluntarily or otherwise—is tax-free. No teachers’ union—or any union—pays a penny in taxes.”  As teachers’ union watchdog Mike Antonucci writes, “The NEA sinks lots of money into mutual funds, which invest in big corporations, including “AT&T, Verizon, Target, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, IBM, Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Comcast, Coca-Cola, Philip Morris, Microsoft, Boeing, JP Morgan Chase, Berkshire Hathaway, and Aramark.” The NEA “invests in 9 of the 10 richest corporations in the United States,” added Mr. Antonucci.
  4. Four unions combined to spend more than $1 billion on political activities since 2012, according to federal labor filings. Those four are the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), American Federation of State, County, & Municipal Employees (AFSCME), National Education Association (NEA), and American Federation of Teachers (AFT). This is a conservative estimate on public-sector union spending, since they do not count the spending of local unions or state chapters on such activities. Nearly all of the unions’ federal political contributions went to Democrats or advanced liberal causes, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.  Stan Greer who analyzed federal labor filings which disclose how much unions spend on political activities at the federal, state, and local level for the National Institute for Labor Relations Research (NILRR) wrote:  “Big labor is increasingly turning its focus away from workplace matters and more and more towards buying political influence.” No surprise.

The NEA’s unification policy, which means all members are forced to pay dues to the national association, effectively killed the independence of the local and state associations.  While national union bosses thought it would be a media coup to highlight their most recent convention online.  In reality, people got to see a group of very angry people often focused on issues completely unrelated to public education, mad that they lost compulsory unionism. Mickey Kaus, a blogger and the author of “The End of Equality,” and former Democratic candidate for U.S. senator from California, wrote: “the answer of most union leaders to the failure of 1950’s unionism has been more 1950’s unionism.” Most educators are not buying into a more militant, progressive labor movement beholden to the far left.

Educators nationally often spend hundreds, or sometimes even thousands of dollars per year on union dues.  There are much more cost-effective alternatives, like Professional Educators of Tennessee.   That is what makes groups like Professional Educators of Tennessee different.  We offer a modern approach to educator representation, legal protection and unmatched educational advocacy, as well as promoting professionalism, collaboration and excellence without a partisan agenda.  There are non-union alternatives for educators in other states as well.  Nobody wants to return the 1950’s.

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JC Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, a non-partisan teacher association headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee.  Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the association are properly cited. For more information on this subject or any education issue please contact Professional Educators of Tennessee.