Are teacher contract rules a source of education disparity?

27 Apr

Moi posted about teacher contract issues in University of Chicago Law school study prompts more debate about the effect of unions on education outcome:
Moi wrote about teachers unions in Teachers unions are losing members:

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.

See, “Understanding the History of Teachers Unions,” a Panel Discussion with Diane Ravitch

Several studies have examined the role of teacher contracts in education disparity.

Stephen Sawchuck reported in the Education Week article, Are Contracts to Blame for Teacher-Quality Gaps?

Despite being widely known and universally condemned, the stark gap in teacher quality between schools serving large concentrations of minority students and those educating mainly white students has proved frustratingly difficult to address.
As researchers seek to identify the causes of this common predicament, they are increasingly turning their attention to one of the often-cited culprits: teacher contracts.
They are scouring collective bargaining agreements, parsing language governing seniority, and attempting to determine whether stronger protections—provisions requiring transfers to be determined solely by seniority, for instance—bear a relationship to where experienced teachers work.
As a batch of recent studies on the topic indicate, though, scholars aren’t likely to reach any simple answers.
So far, the existing research provides some limited evidence that, for high-minority elementary schools in large districts, seniority language may play a role in teacher-quality gaps. But beyond that, the situation is murky. What’s more, the researchers don’t all agree on how to interpret the results, or even whether the questions that have guided the most recent studies are the appropriate ones.
On one matter, at least, researchers do agree: In an area of policymaking long dominated by anecdote, an empirical examination of contracts is long overdue.
“There is so little work that focuses on exactly how collective bargaining affects how districts and schools are organized, even though it’s obviously critical to how schools and districts do the job of educating students,” said Sarah Anzia, an assistant professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author of one of the newest studies on the topic. “So I think that seeing this flurry of papers and articles is really promising.”
Disparities in teacher quality between schools serving high and low proportions of black and Hispanic students have been documented in various forms for years. The issue recently made national headlines again, thanks to federal civil rights data showing that black students were four times as likely as their white peers to be assigned less-experienced teachers….
Studies Probe Transfer Rules
Researchers have been examining whether collective bargaining agreements harm teacher quality in high-minority schools.
“Bottom-Up Structure: Collective Bargaining, Transfer Rights, And the Plight of Disadvantaged Schools” (2005)
Terry M. Moe, Stanford University
Findings: In a sample of California districts, stronger seniority-based transfer rules were linked to a decline in teacher quality in high-minority schools.
“Facilitating the Teacher Quality Gap? Collective Bargaining Agreements, Teacher Hiring and Transfer Rules, And Teacher Assignment Among Schools in California” (2007)
William S. Koski, Stanford University; Eileen Horng
Findings: Stronger seniority policies in California districts generally were not linked to the distribution of qualified or experienced teachers across high- and low-minority schools.
“Seniority Provisions in Collective Bargaining Agreements And the ‘Teacher Quality Gap’” (2013)
Lora Cohen-Vogel, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Li Feng, Texas State University-San Marcos; La’Tara Osborne-Lampkin, Florida State University
Findings: Stronger seniority policies in Florida’s districts were not linked to the distribution of qualified or experienced teachers across high- and low-minority schools.
“Collective Bargaining, Transfer Rights, And Disadvantaged Schools” (2014)
Sarah F. Anzia, University of California, Berkeley; Terry M. Moe, Stanford University
Findings: In large California districts, stronger seniority provisions were related to a decline in the number of experienced teachers in high-minority schools. The pattern did not appear in small districts.
“Inconvenient Truth? Do Collective Bargaining Agreements Help Explain the Distribution and Movement of Teachers Within School Districts?” (2014)
Dan Goldhaber, University of Washington Bothell; Lesley Lavery, Macalester College; Roddy Theobold, University of Washington
Findings: Experienced teachers in Washington state were more likely to transfer out of high-minority schools in districts with contracts that specified seniority as the only factor in transfer decisions.
SOURCE: Education Week


Collective Bargaining, Transfer Rights, and Disadvantaged Schools
1. Sarah F. Anzia
1. University of California, Berkeley
2. Terry M. Moe
1. Stanford University
Collective bargaining is common in American public education, but its consequences are poorly understood. We focus here on key contractual provisions—seniority-based transfer rights—that affect teacher assignments, and we show that these transfer rights operate to burden disadvantaged schools with higher percentages of inexperienced teachers. We also show that this impact is conditional: It is substantial in large districts, where decisions are likely to follow rules, but it is virtually zero in small districts, where decisions tend to be less formal and undesirable outcomes can more easily be avoided. The negative consequences are thus concentrated on precisely those districts and schools—large districts, high-minority schools—that have been the nation’s worst performers and the most difficult to improve.
collective bargaining
Article Notes
Declaration of Conflicting Interests The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Funding The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Received February 28, 2012.
Revision received November 15, 2012.
Revision received April 22, 2013.
Accepted July 11, 2013.

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?

Quiet Riot: Insurgents Take On Teachers’ Unions,8599,2087980,00.html#ixzz1zgjC7qGS

Can Teachers Unions Do Education Reform?

Let a New Teacher-Union Debate Begin

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr.

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