Organization Trends

Teachers Unions, AI, and the Classroom

Imagine you are back in high school, and your environmental science teacher just asked you to write an essay on invasive species in your area. How did you use to write your research papers? Was it pre-internet? Did you use your family’s collection of giant, clunky, outdated encyclopedias? Did you go to the library, ask the librarian for directions, and do some careful and tedious searching? Completing research papers has changed a lot since then, but it’s not just the internet making research an instantaneous breeze. Not only can students search the web for any and all information known to mankind in a moment, but now, using artificial intelligence (AI), they can have technology write their papers for them.

AI can be a powerful tool for automating processes and making society more productive, but it can also be used to cheat one’s way through school without learning. How do teachers, administrators, and teachers’ unions navigate these dilemmas?

“Teachers Union and AI”

Teachers unions and AI can intersect in several ways:

  1. Labor Impact: AI and automation have the potential to impact the teaching profession by automating administrative tasks, grading, and even some instructional tasks. This can lead to concerns among teachers and their unions about potential job displacement.
  2. Training and Reskilling: Teachers unions may advocate for professional development and reskilling programs to help educators adapt to AI technologies, ensuring they remain relevant and effective in the classroom.
  3. Data Privacy: AI systems in education often involve the collection and analysis of student data. Teachers unions may play a role in advocating for strong data privacy regulations to protect both students and educators.
  4. Pedagogical Support: Some AI tools can assist teachers by providing personalized learning recommendations and data-driven insights. Unions may engage in discussions on how to integrate AI in ways that enhance the teaching profession.
  5. Collective Bargaining: Unions may negotiate terms and conditions related to the use of AI in the classroom, including issues such as workload, compensation, and professional autonomy.

Overall, the relationship between teachers unions and AI can involve both opportunities and challenges, and the extent to which AI is integrated into education may vary by region and educational context.

Responding to AI

What you just read in the previous section was written by AI. I downloaded the ChatGPT app and prompted it to write about Teachers Union and AI. Seconds later, it produced what you just read. It is informative, grammatically correct, and boring but good enough for a passing grade. According to a survey by, one-third of college students “used ChatGPT for schoolwork this past academic year.”

The response from educational professionals has been mixed. The largest US school district, NY City Public Schools, has banned the app “across all district devices and networks,” with other large districts such as Los Angeles and Baltimore following their example. AI detection software to catch student’s cheating exists but is by no means perfect. Others, however, have embraced the usefulness of the tech. ChapGPT can differentiate lesson plans for students with various skill levels—something teachers are constantly focusing on. For example, a teacher can write an assignment at a higher grade level, give it to ChatGPT, and tell the app to rewrite the lesson at a lower grade level. Within seconds, a new, more straightforward lesson is created. Talk about a time saver.

One article put out by the National Education Association (NEA) weighs the pros and cons, listing differentiating lessons and translating lessons and materials into students’ native language as some of the undeniable benefits of AI. One teacher they interviewed says she “uses the program to differentiate instruction, generate quizzes, and even email parents, saving more time to interact with students.”


The irony of AI is that while we reach new heights in technological advancements, we may be forced to go low-tech. As a teacher with 15 years of experience, I’ll tell you what I’d do if I were still in the classroom today. I’d make students write their papers on physical paper in class. That’s the only way to ensure they are learning how to write and not using AI to write their papers.

Of course, none of this is to say AI technology should be shunned entirely. But there must be balance. Students and teachers should learn how to use AI and harness the technology to be more productive. Like it or not, students have already discovered AI, and it’s here to stay.

On the other hand, we cannot become so overreliant on it that students never learn how to write and, thus, think for themselves.

Kali Fontanilla

Kali is serving as CRC’s Senior fellow, particularly focusing on topics related to K-12 public education. She has 15 years of experience as a credentialed educator working in public and…
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