During the recent severe storm, I sat on the steps of the basement in my campus office and watched my colleagues tie the doors shut so they wouldn’t blow open. My ears popped as the air pressure dropped and the world outside turned black. Like parents across south Louisiana, I worried about my children.

I knew that they were huddled in their school hallway doing the same tornado drill we all did as a child. And while I was worried about their safety, I knew without any doubt that their teachers were doing their best to shelter them and calm their fears.

The fact that I was confident that their teachers were doing their very best to keep them safe is no small thing. That kind of assurance makes what is going on in our Capitol this session all the more troubling. This week, debate starts on a bill to prevent voluntary automatic payroll deductions for teacher union dues. This bill isn’t about the cost of automatic deductions. As a state employee, all kinds of things can be deducted from my paycheck (for example, payments to the United Way and my parking fees). This bill doesn’t change any of those things for me or any other employee.

All this bill does is prevent teachers from having their union dues deducted if they freely choose to do so. This isn’t about saving the state money.

This is about silencing the voice of teachers. My children’s teachers are their most important advocate in the classroom. The unions help make that voice heard in the legislature while teachers focus on our children.

The Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI) doesn’t like that because teachers stand in the way of LABI’s agenda for our children.

When it comes to education policy, I am going to trust the voices of the people who huddled in the hallway with my children on that stormy morning. I want their voices heard, and House Bill 418 and Senate Bill 204 want to silence that voice. If a teacher had a positive effect on your life or your child’s life, call your representative and senator and tell them that teachers’ voices matter. Tell them to vote no on these bills.

Belinda Creel Davis

college professor

Baton Rouge