Illinois Considering Bill Mandating Students Learn the History of Labor Unions

The Illinois state Senate is considering legislation that would make it mandatory for public school students to learn the history of labor unions and the collective bargaining process.

Senate Bill 2682, introduced last month, would require all students to learn “the history of organized labor in America” before they graduate eighth grade. If passed, the school code would be amended to state: “The teaching of history also shall include a study of the history of organized labor in America, the role of labor unions and their interaction with government in achieving the goals of a mixed free enterprise system, and the collective bargaining process.”

In this Jan. 12, 2012 file photo, teachers strike outside Zion-Benton High School in Zion, Ill., after negotiations between the teachers union and District 126 broke down. (AP/Daily Herald, Steve Lundy, File)

It was introduced by state Sen. Michael Hastings (D), who received nearly $30,000 in contributions from the labor sector for his 2012 campaign, according to the nonprofit National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Hastings did not respond to a request for comment from TheBlaze.

Justin Hegy, an analyst at the conservative Illinois Policy Institute, said the bill “aims to promote a pro-government and pro-union worldview already very much embedded in Illinois’ public education system.”

“Our students are presented with a government-run education system – managed by government workers who are themselves heavily unionized – which mandates a curriculum that glorifies the role of unions. Conflict of interest, anyone?” Hegy wrote in an online post.

In 2012, the Illinois Education Association contributed nearly $2.2 million to state candidates and the Illinois Federation of Teachers contributed more than $1 million.

The bill was listed as “postponed” by the education committee as of last week, but that does not mean that it is dead, said Jane McEnaney, manager of government affairs for the Illinois Policy Institute.

“This can happen for a number of reasons, but most likely, this latest action is indicative of the chief sponsor or the committee chair not being prepared to call for the bill to be heard, and voted on, by the committee as early as it was initially scheduled for,” McEnaney said. “That same day, a co-sponsor was added to the bill. The ‘postponed’ status allows the chief sponsor to buy some time in garnering more support for the bill, prior to it being considered by the substantive committee to which it was assigned.”

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