Teachers unions are losing members

4 Jul

All politics is local.

Thomas P. O’Neill

Moi would like to modify that quote a bit to all education is local and occurs at the neighborhood school. We really should not be imposing a straight jacket on education by using a one-size-fits-all approach. Every school, in fact, every classroom is its own little microclimate. We should be looking at strategies which work with a given population of children.

A Healthy Child In A Healthy Family Who Attends A Healthy School In A Healthy Neighborhood. ©

The question which increasingly asked is whether teachers unions help or hinder education.

PBS has a great history of teaching, Only A Teacher: Teaching Timeline which discusses unionization:


There are two national teachers unions in the United States today, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. The NEA was founded in 1857 as a policy-making organization, one that hoped to influence the national debate about schools and schooling. Over the next hundred years, it played a significant role in standardizing teacher training and curriculum. Until the 1960s, the NEA tended to represent the interests of school administrators and educators from colleges and universities.

The AFT, on the other hand, was always much more of a grass-roots teachers’ organization. It was formed in 1897 as the Chicago Teachers Federation, with the explicit aim of improving teachers’ salaries and pensions. Catherine Goggin and Margaret Haley allied the CFT with the labor movement, going so far as to join the American Federation of Labor – an act that horrified everyone who wanted to see teaching as genteel, white-collar employment. At the same time, the union conceived its work in terms of broader social improvement, bettering the lives of the poor and the alienated. By 1916, several local unions had come together to form the AFT. In the 1940s, the AFT began collective bargaining with local school boards, which again horrified some people. Collective bargaining always carries the threat of strikes, and teachers, as servants of the community, were long seen as both too indispensable and too noble to engage in work stoppages. The issue of strikes remains contentious today.

Teacher militancy has waxed and waned over the past 50 years. But many teachers believe that whatever gains they have made — in pay, benefits, job security and working conditions — have come from the efforts of their unions. Today, the NEA and AFT flirt with the idea of merging and have made significant strides towards combining their memberships. Their common interests — greater professionalization, increased authority for educators, enhanced clout in Washington, better working conditions and improved schools — dictate working together, and perhaps even becoming one very powerful union.                                                       http://www.pbs.org/onlyateacher/timeline.html

See, “Understanding the History of Teachers Unions,” a Panel Discussion with Diane Ravitch http://webscript.princeton.edu/~sfer/blog/2010/12/understanding-the-history-of-teachers-unions-a-panel-discussion-with-diane-ravitch/

Greg Toppo writes in the USA Today article, USA’s top teachers union losing members:

The National Education Association (NEA) has lost more than 100,000 members since 2010. By 2014, union projections show, it could lose a cumulative total of about 308,000 full-time teachers and other workers, a 16% drop from 2010. Lost dues will shrink NEA’s budget an estimated $65 million, or 18%.

NEA calls the membership losses “unprecedented” and predicts they may be a sign of things to come. “Things will never go back to the way they were,” reads its 2012-14 strategic plan, citing changing teacher demographics, attempts by some states to restrict public employee collective bargaining rights and an “explosion” in online learning that could sideline flesh-and-blood teachers. http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/story/2012-06-28/Teacher-unions-education/55993750/1

There must be a way to introduce variation into the education system. To the extent that teachers unions hinder the variation in the system, they become a hindrance.


Debate: Are Teachers’ Unions the Problem—or the Answer? http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/03/18/debate-are-teachers-unions-the-problem-or-the-answer.html

Quiet Riot: Insurgents Take On Teachers’ Unions

Can Teachers Unions Do Education Reform? http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204124204577151254006748714.html

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

6 Responses to “Teachers unions are losing members”

  1. Doreen Hamilton July 5, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    Teachers’ unions! Don’t get me started!! Anyone expecting the unions to cooperate with, or initiate, educational reform is tripping down the primrose path of dalliance. Won’t happen, can’t happen; their ideology forbids it.. Evidence: 1. WEA-PAC website banner headline: “Stop billionaires’ grab for education,” referring to the Washington State charter schools initiative on the ballot for November; 2. NEA website headline: “NEA calls on all educators to be social justice patriots; 3. Straight-ticket (Democrat) endorsements of political candidates; liberal/radical positions on social, economic, and national defense issues — far to the left of mainstream and independent voters. I could go on and on. Finally, I know from personal experience that hell hath no fury like a union hack defied. Are unions the problem? Is there a Mt. Rainier? Why debate the obvious?

    Dr. Doreen
    Doreen Hamilton, Ph.D.

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