Opinion

Consider teacher liability coverage idea

An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — Officials of West Virginia’s two teachers’ unions have made their agenda crystal clear by arguing against a new state benefit for educators.

Many members of local and state government bodies benefit from taxpayer-funded liability insurance covering their actions in official capacities.

State Board of Education member Wade Linger is suggesting such insurance would be a “reasonable benefit” for teachers and, presumably, other educators. “We live in a litigious society and legal defense can be an expensive thing to worry about,” Linger explained. “It just seems appropriate to me, and it only seems fair, that teachers should have some form of protection.”

Unless and until the idea is explored, no one knows whether it is feasible. Liability insurance can be costly, after all, and the state’s resources are limited.

But leaders of the West Virginia Education Association and the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers do not like the idea. “I would see that as a form of union busting” commented WVEA President Dale Lee.

Huh? When did unions claiming to be helping their members suddenly turn against their employers providing valuable new benefits?

When that threatened to their membership rosters, that’s when.

Both unions offer liability insurance for teachers – but only to their members. At least some educators join the WVEA and WVAFT primarily to get the insurance. If the state provides it, they have no incentive to remain in the unions – and continue paying dues.

In all likelihood, a substantial percentage of teachers – both union and non-union – would like to have the liability insurance benefit. State board members and legislators should look into it.

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