Tag Archives: A Brief History of Tenure

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:

Unions
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/ https://drwilda.com/2012/07/04/teachers-unions-are-losing-members/
https://drwilda.com/2013/09/21/university-of-chicago-law-school-study-prompts-more-debate-about-the-effect-of-unions-on-education-outcome/

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
http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/04/16/28contract_ep.h33.html

Citation:

Collective Bargaining, Transfer Rights, and Disadvantaged Schools
1. Sarah F. Anzia
1. University of California, Berkeley
2. Terry M. Moe
1. Stanford University
Abstract
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.
unions
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.

Resources:

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
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2087980,00.html#ixzz1zgjC7qGS

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

Let a New Teacher-Union Debate Begin
http://educationnext.org/let-a-new-teacher-union-debate-begin/#.Ujthycb-osY.email

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Adjunct professors are the new serfs

4 Feb

Moi has posted quite a bit about adjunct professors. In USC study: Adjunct faculty pay disparity can be fixed at reasonable cost, she wrote:
A good basic description of teacher tenure as found at teacher tenure. James gives the following definition:
WHAT IS TENURE?

Tenure is a form of job security for teachers who have successfully completed a probationary period. Its primary purpose is to protect competent teachers from arbitrary nonrenewal of contract for reasons unrelated to the educational process — personal beliefs, personality conflicts with administrators or school board members, and the like.
WHAT PROTECTION DOES TENURE OFFER THE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER?
The type and amount of protection vary from state to state and — depending on agreements with teachers’ unions — may even vary from school district to school district. In general, a tenured teacher is entitled to due process when he or she is threatened with dismissal or nonrenewal of contract for cause: that is, for failure to maintain some clearly defined standard that serves an educational purpose. http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-925/tenure.htm

Time has a good summary of the history of teacher tenure at A Brief History of Tenure http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1859505,00.html https://drwilda.com/2013/09/10/northwestern-university-study-adjunct-faculty-better-teachers-at-one-school/

Joanne Jacobs posted Adjuncts v. Fulltime Faculty at Community College Spotlight:

Retired State Sen. Ken Jacobsen once called Washington state’s community colleges “a chain of academic sweatshops,” Longmate writes.
At Olympic College, full-time faculty average $55,797 a year, while an adjunct who taught full-time would average $27,833.
“The same tension has arisen elsewhere — at Wisconsin’s Madison Area Technical College, for instance, adjuncts filed suit to stop overloads,” notes Inside Higher Ed.
In New Hampshire, community college adjuncts have joined a state employees union.
At Chicago’s Columbia College, experienced, top-scale adjuncts charge they’ve lost class assignments to newly hired part-timers who cost less. http://communitycollegespotlight.org/content/adjuncts-vs-full-time-faculty_3701/

The question is whether colleges can afford to fix the disparity.

Claudio Sanchez reported in the NPR story, Part-Time Professors Demand Higher Pay; Will Colleges Listen?

When you think about minimum-wage workers, college professors don’t readily come to mind. But many say that’s what they are these days.
Of all college instructors, 76 percent, or over 1 million, teach part time because institutions save a lot of money when they replace full-time, tenured faculty with itinerant teachers, better known as adjuncts.

Kathleen Gallagher, a published poet and writer with advanced studies and a master’s degree, spent 20 years as an adjunct English professor at several colleges in Akron, Ohio. The most she’s ever made in a year is $21,000; last year, she made $17,000.
After one college laid her off last summer, Gallagher was desperately short of money, so she sold her plasma.
“It is embarrassing to talk on the radio and say, ‘I think I’ll have to go give some blood,’ ” she says with a sigh. “But I needed gasoline….”
More than half the faculty at the University of Akron teaches part time. Ramsier says he’s sorry some adjuncts are struggling, but they know, or should know, what they’re getting into.
“Part-time work is truly part-time work,” he says. “We’re not expecting, or trying, to take advantage of people.”
Two-year and four-year colleges started replacing full-time faculty with part-time instructors in the mid-1970s. That shift has created lots of tension on college campuses where adjuncts are treated like cheap labor, according to a congressional report released last month.
Initially, part-time teachers were popular because they brought “real-world experience” to the classroom, according to Adrianna Kezar, an expert on workforce issues in higher education and a professor at the University of Southern California. She says things are different today.
“Higher education has begun to adopt corporate management practices,” Kezar says. “Corporations move to more contingent labor because it is a cheaper form of labor.”
It’s certainly cheaper, though the amount depends on the size of the institution and whether it’s public or private. A full-time professor’s salary can average from $72,000 a year up to $160,000; adjuncts average $25,000 to $27,000 a year, and often much less, regardless of where they teach.
‘We Have To Stop Hiding In The Shadows’
At Cuyahoga Community College, just outside Cleveland, 3 out of 4 faculty members are adjuncts, like David Wilder. Now in his late 50s, he has a degree in library sciences and has taught art history at Cuyahoga for 10 years, and 15 years at another school. Despite that, he lives paycheck to paycheck and moonlights in the deli of a nearby hotel. He says the professors are just minimum-wage workers.
“We’re just part of working people starting to step forward,” Wilder says. “We identify with the fast-food workers that are telling their stories, and we want to do the same.”
Some adjuncts here are on food stamps; others struggle to make their car or rent payments…. http://www.npr.org/2014/02/03/268427156/part-time-professors-demand-higher-pay-will-colleges-listen

A University of Southern California study argues colleges can afford to fix the disparity.

Colleen Flaherty reported in the Inside Higher Ed article, Not Too Expensive to Fix:

Or so argues a new paper from the Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success, a partnership between the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education and the Association of American Colleges and Universities to examine and develop the role of adjunct faculty.
“[Although] leaders in higher education do face budgetary constraints and uncertainty over future funding sources, it is a myth that resources are the sole reason that prevents us from ensuring that all our faculty members are adequately supported so they can provide the highest quality of instruction to their students,” reads Delphi’s “Dispelling the Myths: Locating the Resources Needed to Support Non-Tenure-Track Faculty.”
The paper, written by Adrianna Kezar, director of the Delphi Project and professor of higher education at the University of Southern California, and Dan Maxey, Kezar’s research assistant, outlines a variety of practices institutions may adopt to better support all faculty – not just adjuncts – rated on a scale from “$” (free to marginal in cost) to “$$$$” (indicating a “more substantial” expense).
Some obvious means of supporting adjunct instructors, who make up nearly three-fourths of the higher education work force — better pay, benefits — are costly. But others — such as enhancing data collection efforts to better track adjunct employment on campus, ensuring protections for academic freedom in faculty handbooks, and inviting adjuncts to participate in curricular discussions and governance – aren’t.
That’s the paper’s biggest takeaway, Kezar said, given the many “myths and stereotypes,” coupled with the lack of national data, about the costs of rethinking adjunct employment conditions. It’s based on previous case studies of different campuses’ costs and strategies related to adjunct faculty members.
“This new resource on how to understand the actual costs to support [adjuncts] should be paradigm-shifting for campus leaders,” she said via e-mail. “So many changes cost little or marginal amounts of money. But they do require priority-setting and making this a goal for departments or institutions.”
Inexpensive Ways Institutions Can Support Adjunct Faculty
Cost Practice
$ (marginal) Enhance data collection efforts on adjunct employment on campus
$ Ensure or clarify protections for academic freedom
$ Provide access to instructional materials, resources and support services (library, photocopies, etc.)
$-$$ (some additional expense) Provide access to on-campus professional development opportunities
$-$$ Extend opportunity to participate in departmental meetings, curriculum design and campus life (inclusive in e-mail distribution lists, etc.)
$-$$ Participation in governance
$-$$ Facilitate opportunities for faculty mentoring
$-$$ Ensure access to orientation for new hires
$-$$ Access to administrative staff for support
Maxey said that once institutions begin to make meaningful but inexpensive changes to adjunct working conditions, they can become convinced of the value of such investments.
“Non-tenure-track faculty are committed educators and should be provided proper support and fair compensation,” he said via e-mail. “We see all of the recommendations as important, but by offering this range of choices, campuses can target a few to start with that are within reach. In our experience working with campuses, those that start out with just a few low-cost changes often quickly realize that these changes to better-support the faculty are worth any added expense….”
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/10/16/paper-argues-more-support-adjuncts-wont-cost-much#ixzz2hv2YAHXI

Adjuncts do not want to be overlooked in the discussion of income inequality.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has written several articles about the plight of adjunct teaching faculty:

o ‘Chronicle’ Survey Yields a Rare Look Into Adjuncts’ Work Lives http://chronicle.com/article/Chronicle-Survey-Yields-a/48843/

o Love of Teaching Draws Adjuncts to the Classroom Despite Low Pay http://chronicle.com/article/Love-of-Teaching-Draws/48845/

o Full-Time Instructors Shoulder the Same Burdens That Part-Timers Do http://chronicle.com/article/Full-Time-Instructors-Shoulder/48841/

o At One 2-Year College, Adjuncts Feel Like Outsiders http://chronicle.com/article/At-One-2-Year-College/48844/

o Video: Voices of Adjuncts http://chronicle.com/article/Video-Voices-of-Adjuncts/48868/

Related:

Report: Declining college teaching loads can raise the cost of college https://drwilda.com/2013/04/02/report-declining-college-teaching-loads-can-raise-the-cost-of-college/

USC study: Adjunct faculty pay disparity can be fixed at reasonable cost https://drwilda.com/2013/10/19/usc-study-adjunct-faculty-pay-disparity-can-be-fixed-at-reasonable-cost/

Important statement from American Association of University Professors about cutting adjunct teaching hours in response Obamacare
https://drwilda.com/2013/04/05/important-statement-from-american-association-of-university-professors-about-cutting-adjunct-teaching-hours-in-response-obamacare/

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Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

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Dr. Wilda © https://drwilda.com/

Landmark California case regarding teacher tenure: Vergara v. California

1 Feb

People become teachers for many reasons. Among the top ten reasons to become a teacher are:

1. Student Potential
2. Student Successes
3. Teaching a Subject Helps You Learn a Subject
4. Daily Humor
5. Affecting the Future
6. Staying Younger
7. Autonomy in the Classroom
8. Conducive to Family Life
9. Job Security
10. Summers Off
http://712educators.about.com/od/teacherresources/tp/teachergood.htm

Because of the recession, many are turning to teaching as a career that might have employment possibilities. Although there may be job cuts as states and some locales cope with diminishing tax revenue, the education sector still looks good in comparison with other sectors. Information about teaching requirements can be found at Education Week Career Community http://resources.topschooljobs.org/tsj/states/

The issue of teacher tenure is important because:

There is no shortage of data that show a significant percentage of teachers leave just when they are becoming consistently effective. However, at the same time, too many teachers who have not become consistently effective achieve permanent status, also referred to as tenure.

The question surrounding teacher tenure is how to protect quality teachers from unfair termination?

What is Teacher Tenure?

A good basic description of teacher tenure as found at teacher tenure. http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-925/tenure.htm James gives the following definition:

WHAT IS TENURE?
Tenure is a form of job security for teachers who have successfully completed a probationary period. Its primary purpose is to protect competent teachers from arbitrary nonrenewal of contract for reasons unrelated to the educational process — personal beliefs, personality conflicts with administrators or school board members, and the like.
WHAT PROTECTION DOES TENURE OFFER THE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER?
The type and amount of protection vary from state to state and — depending on agreements with teachers’ unions — may even vary from school district to school district. In general, a tenured teacher is entitled to due process when he or she is threatened with dismissal or nonrenewal of contract for cause: that is, for failure to maintain some clearly defined standard that serves an educational purpose.

Time has a good summary of the history of teacher tenure at A Brief History of Tenure
http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1859505,00.html?artId=1859505?contType=article?chn=us

What are the Pros and Cons of Teacher Tenure?

One of the best concise defenses of K-12 teacher tenure is from Cleolaf’s blog at Why K12 Teachers Need Tenure The reasons are:

A) The teacher shortage is not evenly distributed. High performing schools don’t have the same problems attracting teacher. High paying district don’t have the same problems attracting teachers….
B) This really comes down to the question of why principals might want to be rid of a teacher. I would suggest that any manager would want to be rid of any employee who makes his/her job or life harder. Ideally, this would only be low performing teachers, but that is a fantasy view.
Any kind of rabble rouser can make a principal’s job harder. …Obviously, union activists are already protected by other labor laws.
C) Academic freedom in K12 is not like in higher education, that’s true. But it is still an issue.
A teacher who tries to raise the bar in his/her classes can create no end of problems for a principal. If standards in school have been too low, and a teacher demands more than students are accustomed to, students and their parents can demand enormous amounts of principal’s time. This is a different form of rocking the boat, but can still be enough for a principal to wish to be rid of the teacher.
Principals cannot be experts on everything. Once, when teaching high school English, my principal as a former middle school math teacher. He insisted that I as an English teacher, “not worry about critical and analytical thinking” and “just teach English.” Though he had no training or experience with high school English, he had ideas about what it meant. He did not approve of the fact that I was spending as much time on teaching my student how to reason as on the mechanics of writing. …
Another principal might be an old school traditionalist and insist that English classes only be about books. He might not approve of using film or video to teach about theme, plot, symbolism, character development, story arcs, allegory and any of the rest. But a teacher might feel that this would be the best way for students to learn these lessons….
No, we don’t need tenure if principals can be counted on to make good decisions in the best interests of children. But they are human, and therefore often make decisions in their own interests. Moreover, we have a real shortage of high quality principals, even as we are breaking up large schools into multiple small schools and opening up charter schools….
I do not suggest that there are not problems with our tenure system. A lot falls to principals, perhaps too much. Teacher observation and evaluation is not easy, and the tenure process in dependent on principals making good decisions about teachers during those first three years. …And that is why we still need tenure. It takes a series of bad decisions over a number of years for a poor teacher to get tenure. But without tenure, it only takes one bad decision for a good to be dismissed. http://ceolaf.blogspot.com/2008/04/why-k12-teachers-need-tenure.html

Cleolaf points toward insufficient teacher assessment and evaluation as a prime cause of problems with teacher tenure. Research confirms that good principals are key to high performing schools. Good principals are also the key in Cleolaf’s view to making a tenure system work. Vergara v. California is a California case about teacher tenure.

Jennifer Medina reported in the New York Times article, Fight Over Effective Teachers Shifts to Courtroom:

In a small, wood-paneled courtroom here this week, nine public school students are challenging California’s ironclad tenure system, arguing that their right to a good education is violated by job protections that make it too difficult to fire bad instructors. But behind the students stand a Silicon Valley technology magnate who is financing the case and an all-star cast of lawyers that includes Theodore B. Olson, the former solicitor general of the United States, who recently won the Supreme Court case that effectively overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage….
At issue is a set of rules that grant permanent employment status to California teachers after 18 months on the job, require a lengthy procedure to dismiss a teacher, and set up a seniority system in which the teachers most recently hired must be the first to lose their jobs when layoffs occur, as they have regularly in recent years.
Teachers’ unions, which hold powerful sway among lawmakers here, contend that the protections are necessary to ensure that teachers are not fired unfairly. Without these safeguards, the unions say, the profession will not attract new teachers….
The month long trial promises to be a closely watched national test case on employment laws for teachers, one of the most contentious debates in education. Many school superintendents and advocates across the country call such laws detrimental and anachronistic, and have pressed for the past decade for changes, with mixed success. Tenure for teachers has been eliminated in three states and in Washington, D.C., and a handful of states prohibit seniority as a factor in teacher layoffs. But in many large states with urban school districts, including California and New York, efforts to push through such changes in the legislature have repeatedly failed.
While several lawsuits demanding more money for schools have succeeded across the country, the California case is the most sweeping legal challenge claiming that students are hurt by employment laws for teachers. The case also relies on a civil rights argument that so far is untested: that poor and minority students are denied equal access to education because they are more likely to have “grossly ineffective” teachers.
Judge Rolf Michael Treu, of Los Angeles County Superior Court, will decide the nonjury trial. His ruling will almost certainly be appealed to the State Supreme Court…
The first witness for the plaintiffs was John E. Deasy, the superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District and a staunch opponent of tenure rules and “last in, first out” seniority for teachers. Mr. Deasy testified that attempts to dismiss ineffective teachers can cost $250,000 to $450,000 and include years of appeals and legal proceedings. Often, he said, the district is forced to decide that the time and money would be too much to spend on a case with an unclear outcome, in part because a separate governing board can reinstate the teachers. Such rules make it impossible not to place ineffective teachers at schools with high poverty rates, he told the court….
Teachers’ unions contend that such job protections help schools keep the best teachers and recruit new ones to a job that is often exhausting, challenging and low paid. Mr. Finberg, the lawyer for the unions, said in court that the fact that Mr. Deasy has increased the number of ineffective teachers dismissed from the classroom — to about 100 of the district’s 30,000 teachers — suggests that the laws are working.
The plaintiffs’ legal team, from the firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, includes not only Mr. Olson, who served as solicitor general under President George W. Bush, but also Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer for Apple in its antitrust case on e-book pricing. The lawyers and public relations firm behind Students Matter previously teamed to overturn the California ballot measure against same-sex marriage and say this case could have a similar ripple effect across the country. Among the boldface names siding publicly with the plaintiffs is Antonio R. Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, who joined them in a news conference outside the courthouse this week….
Teachers’ unions nationwide have fought changes in employment laws, contending that their members must be protected from capricious or vengeful administrators. In Colorado, where a sweeping law in 2010 created a new system to evaluate teachers, the unions are suing over a provision that lets principals decide whether to hire veteran teachers who lost jobs because of budget cuts or drops in enrollment.
Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a telephone interview that the California case echoes the fights she had when she led the teachers’ union in New York, and called the lawsuit “worse than troubling….”
State education laws across the country are changing. School districts in 29 states use poor effectiveness as grounds for dismissal, according to a report released Thursday by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington-based think tank that tracks teacher policies. Just five years ago, no states allowed student performance to be considered in teachers’ evaluations, said Kate Walsh, the executive director of the center. Now, 20 states require such data.
“We have really seen mountains move in some places — the trend in the country has been toward meaningful ways to evaluate teachers and to use that evaluation to make tenure decisions,” Ms. Walsh said in an interview. “But I don’t think anyone has figured out how to implement them particularly well yet.”
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/01/education/fight-over-effective-teachers-shifts-to-courtroom.html?ref=education&_r=0

See, Students Matter http://studentsmatter.org/

Here is the case summary for Vergara v. California:

Vergara v. California Case Summary: Californians shouldn’t have to choose: we can create an education system that gives every child a passionate, motivating and effective teacher and gives effective teachers the respect and rewarding careers they deserve. We believe every child, everywhere, deserves great teachers, and so does the California Supreme Court and the California Constitution. The California Supreme Court has long recognized that equal opportunity to access quality education is every child’s fundamental constitutional right.
With the help of Students Matter, nine California public school children filed the statewide lawsuit Vergara v. California against the State of California in May 2012 to strike down the laws handcuffing schools from doing what’s best for kids when it comes to teachers. Meet the Plaintiffs.
We think it’s simple: reward and retain passionate, motivating, effective teachers and hold those accountable who are failing our children. By striking down the following laws, Vergara v. California will create an opportunity for lawmakers, teachers, administrators and community leaders to design a system that’s good for teachers and students. Because when it comes to educating our kids, there should only be winners.
Permanent Employment Statute: The permanent employment law forces administrators to either grant or deny permanent employment to teachers after only 18 months—before new teachers even complete their beginner teacher programs and before administrators are able to assess whether a teacher will be effective long-term.
Dismissal Statutes: The process for dismissing a single ineffective teacher involves a borderline infinite number of steps, requires years of documentation, costs hundreds of thousands of dollars and still, rarely ever works. In the past 10 years in the entire state of California, only 91 teachers have been dismissed, and the vast majority of those dismissals were for egregious conduct. Only 19 dismissals were based, in whole or in part, on unsatisfactory performance.
“Last-In, First-Out” Layoff Statute: The LIFO law reduces teachers to faceless seniority numbers. The LIFO law forces administrators to let go of passionate and motivating newer teachers and keep ineffective teachers instead, just because they have seniority.
In May 2013, the state’s two largest teachers unions, the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, intervened in the case to defend these statutes alongside the State. The 20-day trial for Vergara v. California begins on January 27, 2014.
View the full Vergara v. California case timeline and read about what happens if we win.
http://studentsmatter.org/our-case/vergara-v-california-case-status/timeline/
http://studentsmatter.org/our-case/vergara-v-california-case-summary/if-we-win/
Also, view and download a one-pager on Students Matter and the Vergara v. California lawsuit.
http://studentsmatter.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/SM_One-Pager-FINAL_01.25.14.pdf
http://studentsmatter.org/our-case/vergara-v-california-case-summary/

Another view of teacher tenure is found at Teacher Tenure: A Life Sentence for Kids This paper begins with the following case:

In 1986, after school administrators in the El Cajon School District in California spent years documenting the more than 400 reasons for why high school English teacher Juliet Ellory was an unfit teacher, the district finally succeeded in firing her. It cost the district more than $300,000 and eight years of preparing and litigating the case. According to the overwhelming evidence against her, Ms. Ellory “hardly ever lectured,gave baffling assignments, belittled students and ignored repeated efforts by the high school principal to get her to improve.”1 Ellory’s tenure status had protected her from automatic dismissal. Though stories such as this one do not depict the average K-12 teacher, they are sufficiently widespread to provoke criticism and concern about the state of our public schools, as well as skepticism regarding the actual benefits of teacher tenure. http://www.luc.edu/media/lucedu/law/centers/childlaw/childed/pdfs/2009studentpapers/roulbet_teacher_tenure.pdf

A key component of reforming teacher tenure is an improved evaluation system for teachers, which focuses on improving traits that produce student achievement.

Teacher Evaluation

The Center has produced a report, which focuses on teacher evaluation. Teacher Evaluation Proper evaluation seems to be key to both addressing many problems teacher tenure was developed to protect from faulty evaluation of a teacher and to improve the quality of those in the teaching profession. Evaluation is just one component, however. New teachers need a proper induction into the profession and mentors to help them hone their skills and methods of teaching. If problems emerge, teachers need proper training and coaching to progress.

No matter where a teacher is in their career lifecycle, they will be confronting the issues of elimination of teacher tenure and more rigorous teacher evaluation. Increasingly, one component of teacher evaluation will focus on whether students are showing academic achievement gains. The point of contention, which may provoke disagreement between the evaluator and the teacher is how student achievement is measured.

In times of recession, all jobs become more difficult to find and often job seekers do not have the luxury of finding the perfect job. New teachers may find jobs in schools often considered less desirable or schools led by principals who are not considered to be leaders or supporters of their staff. Not all learning occurs during the academic portion of your life’s journey. If one finds that the first job is not the perfect opportunity, then prepare for the time you will find the perfect opportunity. Look for a teacher(s) you admire and who are successful and model what has made them successful. People who are skilled and become expert at their craft or profession will weather whatever change comes along, whether it is an elimination or modification of tenure and changes to the way evaluations are conducted.

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USC study: Adjunct faculty pay disparity can be fixed at reasonable cost

19 Oct

Moi wrote in Northwestern University study: Adjunct faculty better teachers at one school:
A good basic description of teacher tenure as found at teacher tenure. James gives the following definition:
WHAT IS TENURE?
Tenure is a form of job security for teachers who have successfully completed a probationary period. Its primary purpose is to protect competent teachers from arbitrary nonrenewal of contract for reasons unrelated to the educational process — personal beliefs, personality conflicts with administrators or school board members, and the like.
WHAT PROTECTION DOES TENURE OFFER THE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER?
The type and amount of protection vary from state to state and — depending on agreements with teachers’ unions — may even vary from school district to school district. In general, a tenured teacher is entitled to due process when he or she is threatened with dismissal or nonrenewal of contract for cause: that is, for failure to maintain some clearly defined standard that serves an educational purpose. http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-925/tenure.htm
Time has a good summary of the history of teacher tenure at A Brief History of Tenure
http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1859505,00.html
https://drwilda.com/2013/09/10/northwestern-university-study-adjunct-faculty-better-teachers-at-one-school/

Joanne Jacobs posted Adjuncts v. Fulltime Faculty at Community College Spotlight:

Retired State Sen. Ken Jacobsen once called Washington state’s community colleges “a chain of academic sweatshops,” Longmate writes.
At Olympic College, full-time faculty average $55,797 a year, while an adjunct who taught full-time would average $27,833.
“The same tension has arisen elsewhere — at Wisconsin’s Madison Area Technical College, for instance, adjuncts filed suit to stop overloads,” notes Inside Higher Ed.
In New Hampshire, community college adjuncts have joined a state employees union.
At Chicago’s Columbia College, experienced, top-scale adjuncts charge they’ve lost class assignments to newly hired part-timers who cost less. http://communitycollegespotlight.org/content/adjuncts-vs-full-time-faculty_3701/

The question is whether colleges can afford to fix the disparity.

Colleen Flaherty reported in the Inside Higher Ed article, Not Too Expensive to Fix:

Or so argues a new paper from the Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success, a partnership between the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education and the Association of American Colleges and Universities to examine and develop the role of adjunct faculty.
“[Although] leaders in higher education do face budgetary constraints and uncertainty over future funding sources, it is a myth that resources are the sole reason that prevents us from ensuring that all our faculty members are adequately supported so they can provide the highest quality of instruction to their students,” reads Delphi’s “Dispelling the Myths: Locating the Resources Needed to Support Non-Tenure-Track Faculty.”
The paper, written by Adrianna Kezar, director of the Delphi Project and professor of higher education at the University of Southern California, and Dan Maxey, Kezar’s research assistant, outlines a variety of practices institutions may adopt to better support all faculty – not just adjuncts – rated on a scale from “$” (free to marginal in cost) to “$$$$” (indicating a “more substantial” expense).
Some obvious means of supporting adjunct instructors, who make up nearly three-fourths of the higher education work force — better pay, benefits — are costly. But others — such as enhancing data collection efforts to better track adjunct employment on campus, ensuring protections for academic freedom in faculty handbooks, and inviting adjuncts to participate in curricular discussions and governance – aren’t.
That’s the paper’s biggest takeaway, Kezar said, given the many “myths and stereotypes,” coupled with the lack of national data, about the costs of rethinking adjunct employment conditions. It’s based on previous case studies of different campuses’ costs and strategies related to adjunct faculty members.
“This new resource on how to understand the actual costs to support [adjuncts] should be paradigm-shifting for campus leaders,” she said via e-mail. “So many changes cost little or marginal amounts of money. But they do require priority-setting and making this a goal for departments or institutions.”
Inexpensive Ways Institutions Can Support Adjunct Faculty
Cost Practice
$ (marginal) Enhance data collection efforts on adjunct employment on campus
$ Ensure or clarify protections for academic freedom
$ Provide access to instructional materials, resources and support services (library, photocopies, etc.)
$-$$ (some additional expense) Provide access to on-campus professional development opportunities
$-$$ Extend opportunity to participate in departmental meetings, curriculum design and campus life (inclusive in e-mail distribution lists, etc.)
$-$$ Participation in governance
$-$$ Facilitate opportunities for faculty mentoring
$-$$ Ensure access to orientation for new hires
$-$$ Access to administrative staff for support
Maxey said that once institutions begin to make meaningful but inexpensive changes to adjunct working conditions, they can become convinced of the value of such investments.
“Non-tenure-track faculty are committed educators and should be provided proper support and fair compensation,” he said via e-mail. “We see all of the recommendations as important, but by offering this range of choices, campuses can target a few to start with that are within reach. In our experience working with campuses, those that start out with just a few low-cost changes often quickly realize that these changes to better-support the faculty are worth any added expense….”
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/10/16/paper-argues-more-support-adjuncts-wont-cost-much#ixzz2hv2YAHXI

Here is the press release from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP):

Change Requires Discipline
Disciplinary societies can lead the battle for the rights of non-tenure-track faculty members, say two leaders of the University of Southern California’s Delphi Project.
By Adrianna Kezar and Daniel Maxey
Today, approximately seven out of every ten instructional faculty members at nonprofit institutions of higher learning are employed off the tenure track; nearly half of all faculty members providing instruction in nonprofit higher education hold part-time appointments. The characteristics that distinguish tenure-track from non-tenure-track faculty members are not limited to the latter’s lack of eligibility for tenure. Rather, most non-tenure-track faculty members, particularly those teaching part time, experience poor working conditions (no job security, low salaries, and little or no access to office space) and are denied many types of support that are provided to their tenure-eligible colleagues (professional development opportunities, access to resources for instruction and administrative personnel, and sometimes even e-mail accounts and library privileges). While many faculty members, administrators, and other higher education stakeholders surely know that large numbers of non-tenure-track faculty members are employed on some campuses or within particular disciplines, the implications for teaching and learning are often not considered or discussed. Yet recent research has documented how greater exposure of students to these faculty members, whose performance is often constrained by poor working conditions and a lack of support, is negatively affecting retention, graduation, and transfer rates as well as other indicators of student success such as GPA.
This is a systemic problem, but one that presents disciplinary societies with various opportunities to contribute in meaningful ways to the overall solution. One of the reasons that contingent faculty issues have not been adequately addressed is that responding requires the attention, support, and action of many different groups across higher education. No single group or coalition representing only a few stakeholder groups has the ability to act unilaterally to make the changes needed. Academic leaders control budgets and make many of the decisions that affect faculty work, boards and policy makers determine the priorities of institutions and systems, accreditation agencies hold institutions accountable to standards, unions decide who will be included in collective bargaining intended to improve conditions, and disciplinary societies influence how faculty members are socialized and which work is valued and rewarded. Although these groups and others often cannot act alone, there is sometimes little or no communication among them to align their efforts and goals. To address complex, systemic problems, a wide range of stakeholders need to participate and powerful levers such as disciplinary societies and accreditation must be used.
Collective Action
Although there has long been a paucity of attention to the growing reliance on non-tenure-track faculty members, individual researchers and activists and organizations such as the New Faculty Majority and the AAUP have recently been advocating for change. Now that teachers off the tenure track have come to represent nearly 70 percent of the faculty—and with some evidence of the adverse effects for students—this issue should be handled with urgency. One of the main reasons we started the Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success was to work with a broad range of stakeholder groups. This national project engages disciplinary societies, organizations representing presidents and boards, unions, academic leaders, policy makers, accreditation agencies, faculty advocacy organizations, and other groups in discussion about how the faculty has changed and what the implications are for student success. We have also asked what the implications are for institutional missions, governance, curriculum development, academic freedom, and equitable employment among the full professoriate. The AAUP joined the project at its inception and has been a voice for the faculty in our work.
Two main questions are the basis for the Delphi Project’s core strategies: What steps can be taken to increase awareness about and improve the working conditions of non-tenure-track faculty members and thus create a better environment for teaching and learning? And how should the faculty model be reconsidered to ensure that we have the best faculty members in place to support the needs of students, institutions, and communities, now and in the future? Faculty members must also ask these questions, and disciplinary associations can have an important leadership role in raising awareness of contingent faculty issues.
An important early step for stakeholders (including disciplinary societies) seeking to change policies and practices is to recognize their roles as part of a collective effort, acknowledging and complementing others’ work toward achieving shared objectives. Faculty leaders should seek to identify who is already working to address contingent faculty issues, begin communicating with them, and align their efforts when possible. The Delphi Project is one such group that can provide resources and tool kits, data, and a well formed statement on the reasons for change that is based on research. Our tools provide campus leaders a clear explanation of the problem, the rationale for change, and step-by-step inquiry processes to rethink existing policies.
Several other groups have been involved in efforts to advocate for non-tenure-track faculty members nationwide. For example, academic unions have collected data and developed statements about advisable policies for campuses. New Faculty Majority, a membership organization serving non-tenure-track faculty members, has a strong advocacy mission but also conducts research and promotes policy change, often by collaborating with other groups. A few disciplinary societies, such as the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Historical Association (AHA), have taken steps to increase the participation of non-tenure-track faculty members. And the work of educational researchers who are studying contingent faculty issues can be used to help frame an evidence-based argument for change.
Identifying the work of active or potential change agents on individual campuses is important as well. Several examples of administrators, faculty members, accreditors, media outlets, students, and unions collaborating at the campus level can be found in Adrianna Kezar’s book Embracing Non-Tenure-Track Faculty as well as the Delphi Project’s Path to Change series. By working with other groups at the national and campus levels, rather than in isolation, faculty leaders and disciplinary societies can be more successful in their efforts.
Disciplinary Society Leadership
In the past, professors mobilized through their disciplinary societies to support broader efforts to create systemic change by taking actions that helped to remove barriers and facilitate reform. For example, in the 1990s, efforts to promote the adoption of service learning, an important innovation in teaching, appeared to have stalled after nearly twenty years of slow progress. Close to a hundred departments, mostly sociology programs, had integrated service learning into the curriculum, but a common obstacle was the belief that service-learning strategies could not be applied in meaningful ways in fields such as chemistry or physics. Proponents sought help from disciplinary societies; they called upon prominent scholars to produce monographs describing how service learning could be used in each field. The leaders of the disciplinary societies also helped to build a base of support for service learning by extolling its benefits and creating opportunities at conferences to share knowledge about its processes and strategies. The work of faculty members through disciplinary societies was only a part of a larger movement that included interconnected and interlocking strategies among different stakeholder groups. Still, these important contributions have helped service learning be adopted and integrated by more than three thousand campuses.
Learning the lessons of past efforts to support change, we offer some advice and strategies to address the non-tenure-track faculty issue: actively reaching out to non-tenure-track faculty members to include them in disciplinary societies; eliminating barriers that hinder participation of non-tenure-track faculty members; creating task forces to call attention to the issues; highlighting data and solutions in journals, websites, and other publications and at conferences; distributing data to raise awareness and enhance discussion; developing policy statements; and creating coalitions with other disciplinary societies.
Active outreach: One of the first steps disciplinary societies can take is to encourage participation of non-tenure-track faculty members in their activities. Greater involvement can help to make these faculty members more visible in the field and allow them to share not only their concerns but also their knowledge and ideas. Including them helps to create a culture of respect for all faculty members within the society that can spread as members carry the spirit of mutual appreciation back to their home institutions. Since many disciplinary societies tend to attract mostly tenure-track faculty members, a conscious and planned outreach effort may be needed.
Elimination of barriers: Inviting non-tenure-track faculty members to join disciplinary societies may not be enough to encourage their participation. Often, high membership fees and the cost of attending conferences is a barrier, particularly since non-tenure-track faculty members usually do not have access to discretionary or travel funds to help cover these expenses. Disciplinary societies such as the MLA and the AHA have thus created membership fee scales that reduce the cost of membership based on a salary scale. The MLA has also created a fund to provide grants for non-tenure-track faculty members to travel to and participate in major conferences. Societies can encourage departments to seek sources of travel funding as well.
Inclusion and engagement: As steps are taken to reduce or eliminate barriers to participation, disciplinary societies have to ensure that non-tenure-track faculty members are included and more fully engaged. Societies can seek out contributions from non-tenure-track faculty members for their publications and consider them for awards and honors given to members for outstanding contributions to their field of study and service. Conferences offer opportunities to invite non-tenure-track scholars to present their research on these issues and host panel discussions and workshops, and they are occasions for tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty members to meet and engage one another in a conversation about the future of their field of study. Treating all members the same fosters a culture of respect, increases the visibility of non-tenure-track faculty members and of the issues they face, enhances the vitality of the disciplines, and generates new ideas and approaches to solving problems.
Use of publications and conferences: Disciplinary societies can also commit to expanding their efforts to advance dialogue about non-tenure-track faculty member issues through conference sessions, journal articles, commissioned reports, and other forums. These are important resources for building greater awareness among a disciplinary society’s membership. Faculty members can share their findings about conditions on their campuses with one another as well as the obstacles they face at home or efforts that have been successful. Panel discussions can highlight best practices or efforts to institutionalize the disciplinary society’s professional standards.
Use of task forces: Often, a lack of discussion about contingent faculty issues is related to a lack of data to demonstrate the nature and scope of the problem. Task forces are a good way to begin to collect data, identify trends, and examine the implications of findings for the future of the discipline. For example, a task force could lead an effort to collect data from departments in the field about the numbers of non-tenure-track and tenure-track faculty members employed, compensation and benefits, policies and practices such as programs for professional development, or access to office space and other forms of support. A few disciplinary societies have planned to conduct additional studies to follow up on their earlier efforts in order to examine how trends might be changing over time.
Dissemination of data: The efforts of task forces and similar entities often lead to reports that document current conditions, which can be widely circulated and used to make recommendations for leadership. They might also suggest actions that can be taken by members’ departments to improve faculty support and lessen inequities. Data and reports can provide a snapshot of conditions, which can help deans, department chairs, and faculty members better understand the nature of the problem. These academic leaders should consider the implications of policies and practices for student learning, equity, and risk management. Many of these concerns are summarized in the Delphi Project’s recent publication, The Imperative for Change.
Development of policy statements: Efforts originating from task forces sometimes lead to the development of policy statements and professional standards to inform the creation or revision of policies, such as those related to faculty working conditions. In 1982, for example, the MLA executive council adopted a statement regarding the use of part-time faculty members, which was expanded in 1994 to include full-time nontenure- track faculty members. The MLA Statement on the Use of Part-Time and Full-Time Adjunct Faculty Members called for an evaluation of non-tenure-track hiring practices, support and resources, compensation and benefits, professional development, and departmental and institutional governance. The 2003 Statement on Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Members addressed the implications of converting increasing numbers of full-time positions to part-time ones and reiterated the importance of improving standards for professional practice. There have also been efforts to address inequitable compensation. Recommendations for full-time non-tenure-track faculty compensation emerged from the MLA’s delegate assembly and were adopted in 2002, followed by the addition of similar guidance on the salaries of their part-time colleagues. Both sets of recommendations have been maintained and are updated to reflect current levels of compensation. Another policy statement, the MLA’s 2011 Professional Employment Practices for Non-Tenure- Track Faculty Members, provides guidelines for evaluating the role of non-tenure-track faculty members in individual departments.
Formation of coalitions: Disciplinary societies can (and in some cases already do) make important contributions by forming or working with existing coalitions. The Coalition on the Academic Workforce (CAW) has been one of the more active coalition groups. Its membership is composed of higher education associations, including the AAUP; disciplinary associations; and faculty organizations that are committed to addressing deteriorating faculty working conditions and their effect on students. The group has grown over the years, and today more than seventeen disciplinary societies are participating. Recently, CAW has garnered attention for its research efforts, notably the creation of a large data set on non-tenure-track faculty members’ experiences and working conditions that contains information collected from approximately twentynine thousand respondents. The group has conducted other research using national faculty databases and has compiled a list of policy statements from member disciplinary societies and organizations.
The Future of the Faculty
Disciplinary societies have long shaped norms for research, teaching, and service and for faculty roles and rewards. They can play an important role in future discussions about the changing nature of the faculty. Accepted methods and theories in research, approaches to teaching, and the type and intensity of service that is valued vary from one discipline to another. Yet, more recently, disciplinary societies seem to have had much less influence over shaping the roles and expectations of faculty members. Criticism of tenure and claims about publishing at the expense of teaching and about inattention to undergraduate education have grown throughout the past thirty years, yet the disciplines have typically had little part, if any, in rethinking expectations. Rather, some argue that we are failing future faculty members by training them for roles and expectations that no longer exist or have been—and likely will continue to be—dramatically changed. Faculty leaders and disciplinary societies must foster discussions about the future of faculty work and how faculty roles could be reconceived not only to address the concerns raised repeatedly by the public, policy makers, academic leaders, and students but also to ensure the future vitality and health of their profession.
Many might think that what we propose sounds too ambitious. Some will suggest that the issue is not really complex at all, retreating to the explanation that the problems related to our changing faculty are simply the result of constrained budgets in an era of economic uncertainty for educational institutions. But this is much more than a budget problem; the trends began long before the current decline in appropriations and other revenues, although today’s budgetary shortfalls have certainly exacerbated the problem. We are never fully constrained by budget issues, and with so much on the line, we should all be working together to address these problems collectively. Still, the evidence that suggests growing reliance on nontenure- track appointments has serious implications for students as well as for the individuals employed in those positions. We need to work within our disciplinary societies and collectively throughout higher education to achieve systemic change. Too many students—and too many faculty members—are being let down by the current system.
The Delphi Project has made a wide range of data and other resources available through its website, http://www.thechangingfaculty.org. We encourage you to visit the site periodically, since we are continuing to work with our partners to improve our understanding of the problem.
Adrianna Kezar is professor of higher education at the University of Southern California and director of the Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success. She has written several books and articles on the issue of the changing faculty and served on the non-tenure-track faculty committee at USC. Daniel Maxey is dean’s fellow in urban education policy at USC’s Rossier School of Education and Pullias Center for Higher Education. His research focuses on faculty, governance, and politics and change in higher education.

These men ask for just the same thing, fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and all others, shall have.
Abraham Lincoln

The Chronicle of Higher Education has written several articles about the plight of adjunct teaching faculty:

o ‘Chronicle’ Survey Yields a Rare Look Into Adjuncts’ Work Lives
http://chronicle.com/article/Chronicle-Survey-Yields-a/48843/

o Love of Teaching Draws Adjuncts to the Classroom Despite Low Pay
http://chronicle.com/article/Love-of-Teaching-Draws/48845/

o Full-Time Instructors Shoulder the Same Burdens That Part-Timers Do
http://chronicle.com/article/Full-Time-Instructors-Shoulder/48841/

o At One 2-Year College, Adjuncts Feel Like Outsiders
http://chronicle.com/article/At-One-2-Year-College/48844/

o Video: Voices of Adjuncts
http://chronicle.com/article/Video-Voices-of-Adjuncts/48868/

Related:

Report: Declining college teaching loads can raise the cost of college
https://drwilda.com/2013/04/02/report-declining-college-teaching-loads-can-raise-the-cost-of-college/

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University of Chicago Law school study prompts more debate about the effect of unions on education outcome

21 Sep

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:

Unions
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/

https://drwilda.com/2012/07/04/teachers-unions-are-losing-members/

Julia Lawrence reported about an interesting University of Chicago study at Education Week.

In State teacher union strength and student achievement, Lawrence reported:

Researchers at the University of Chicago Law School discovered an interesting correlation between the strength of the local teachers unions and student performance. The stronger the protection afforded to teachers based on their latest employment contract, the worse the performance of their students on standardized tests. According to analysis published in the latest issue of the Economics of Education Review, recent small-scale studies have shown that students tend to get lower assessment scores in larger school districts and districts where unions won better terms for their teachers in the latest round of contract negotiations. Jonathan Lott and Lawrence W. Kenny also introduce two metrics for measuring the level of influence of local unions – dues dollars per district teacher and union expenditures per district student. When looked at in these terms, the conclusions are stark. John Dwyer, the Director of Education Reform for Illinois Policy Institute, writes that a hike in union dues by as little as $200 a year translates to a 4% drop in student performance on standardized exams. A similar decline in scores also accompanied a 13% increase in per-student union spending. – See more at: http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/do-strong-teachers-unions-correlate-with-weak-academics/#sthash.GU4MQ10C.dpuf
http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/do-strong-teachers-unions-correlate-with-weak-academics/#sthash.GU4MQ10C.dpuf

Citation:

Economics of Education Review
Volume 35, August 2013, Pages 93–103

State teacher union strength and student achievement
• Johnathan Lotta, E-mail the corresponding author,
• Lawrence W. Kennyb, Corresponding author contact information, E-mail the corresponding author, E-mail the corresponding author
• a University of Chicago Law School, Chicago, IL, United States
• b University of Florida, Dept. of Economics, Gainesville, FL 32611-7140, United States
Received 9 September 2012
Revised 26 March 2013
Accepted 31 March 2013
Available online 8 April 2013
________________________________________
Highlights

District union strength (e.g., restrictiveness of the contract) may affect student test scores.

The impact of teachers union financial resources on student test scores has not been explored.

Teacher unions are major contributors to candidates in Congressional and state legislature races.

We find that student test scores are lower in states with teachers unions with greater union dues.
________________________________________
Abstract
A new and very small literature has provided evidence that students have lower test scores in larger school districts and in districts in which the district’s teachers union has negotiated a contract that is more favorable to the district’s teachers. The teachers’ unions at the state and national levels contribute a great deal of money to candidates for state and federal offices. This gives the unions some influence in passing (defeating) bills that would help (harm) the state’s teachers. We introduce two novel measures of the strength of the state-wide teachers union: union dues per teacher and union expenditures per student. These reflect the key role of political influence for state-wide unions. We provide remarkably strong evidence that students in states with strong teachers unions have lower proficiency rates than students in states with weak state-wide teacher unions.

Here are the key details of the study from Media Trackers:

PENNSYLVANIA
Pennsylvania Teachers Unions Harm Student Learning, New Study Shows
By: Sarah Leitner | September 10, 2013
A new study published in the Economics of Education Review found states with strong teachers unions have lower student achievement than those with weaker unions.
The study’s authors — Johnathan Lott of the University of Chicago Law School and Lawrence W. Kenny of the University of Florida — looked at two different factors to determine the strength of different statewide unions: union dues per teacher and union expenditures per student.
The study looked at 721 school districts with 10,000 students or more across 42 different states for the 2005-06 school year. Overall, the 721 school districts make up 5 percent of all U.S. school districts and 46 percent of all U.S. students.
“We find student test scores to be lower in states in which state-wide teacher union dues and expenditures are higher,” the report reads. “These results are quite insensitive to changes in the specification.”
The study looked at the growth in proficiency rates between fourth and eighth graders on math and reading test scores. Lott and Kenny found a one-dollar rise in union spending per student resulted in a 0.23-point fall in that growth rate in math and a 0.25-point fall in that growth rate in reading.
“Our finding that student proficiency rates in math and reading are lower in states with strong teacher unions than in states with weak teacher unions is quite robust,” they write.
Union dues in the study varied anywhere from $24 to $883, while union spending per student ranged from $3.15 to $63.82.
Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA) members pay dues of $498, and in 2010-11 PSEA’s spending was $75.7 million or around $42.53 per public school student in the state. Those numbers put Pennsylvania in the top bracket of union strength.
Pennsylvania public school revenue has increased from $7,200 per student in the 1995-96 school year to over $14,000 this past year. But despite increased school spending, National Assessment of Education Programs (NAEP) scores have been relatively flat over the past ten years. From 2009 to 2011, fourth grade students did slightly better, while eight graders did slightly worse.
Though the study looked specifically at fourth and eighth grade test scores, the state’s average SAT scores show a similar flat-lining and even a decline in the past ten years.

This is not the only study to categorize Pennsylvania as a state with strong teachers unions. Last year, a Thomas B. Fordham Institute study ranked Pennsylvania as the state with the fourth-strongest teachers union presence and put it in the top tier on its union strength scale.

The Fordham Institute used five indicators to determine each state’s ranking: resources and membership, involvement in politics, the scope of bargaining, state policies, and perceived influence. Pennsylvania teachers unions ranked seventh in both their scope of bargaining and perceived influence, tenth in involvement in politics and 13th in resources and membership. In the state policies category, however, the state ranked 41st in large part to its charter school laws.
PSEA spokesman Wythe Keever said, “I don’t give interviews to Media Trackers” when called for comment.
http://mediatrackers.org/pennsylvania/2013/09/10/pennsylvania-teachers-unions-harm-student-learning-new-study-shows

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.

Resources:

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
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2087980,00.html#ixzz1zgjC7qGS

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

Let a New Teacher-Union Debate Begin
http://educationnext.org/let-a-new-teacher-union-debate-begin/#.Ujthycb-osY.email

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Northwestern University study: Adjunct faculty better teachers at one school

10 Sep

A good basic description of teacher tenure as found at teacher tenure. James gives the following definition:

WHAT IS TENURE?
Tenure is a form of job security for teachers who have successfully completed a probationary period. Its primary purpose is to protect competent teachers from arbitrary nonrenewal of contract for reasons unrelated to the educational process — personal beliefs, personality conflicts with administrators or school board members, and the like.
WHAT PROTECTION DOES TENURE OFFER THE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER?
The type and amount of protection vary from state to state and — depending on agreements with teachers’ unions — may even vary from school district to school district. In general, a tenured teacher is entitled to due process when he or she is threatened with dismissal or nonrenewal of contract for cause: that is, for failure to maintain some clearly defined standard that serves an educational purpose. http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-925/tenure.htm

Time has a good summary of the history of teacher tenure at A Brief History of Tenure
http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1859505,00.html

The Boston University Faculty Classification which is typical of many universities describes an adjunct in Classification of Ranks and Titles:

Unless otherwise stated, the titles and associated criteria described below apply to the faculty of both the Charles River and Medical Campuses. All persons receiving faculty appointments should have engaged in significant scholarly work or have notable professional expertise and achievement. The standard academic ranks are Instructor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor. The standard professorial titles (and where appropriate Instructor) are significantly altered by the addition of modifiers such as Emeritus, University, Clinical, Research, Adjunct, or Visiting. The standard lecturer ranks are Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, and Master Lecturer.
Appointments with the standard professorial titles of Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, and Professor may be Non-Tenure-Track, Tenure-Track, or Tenured. All other faculty appointments are by definition Non-Tenure-Track and without tenure.
A distinction is also made between full-time and part-time appointments. Full-time appointees are expected to give full-time service and allegiance to the University. No right of Tenure accrues to any person holding a part-time position regardless of title, rank, or cumulative length of service. The duties of and terms and conditions for part-time faculty shall be articulated in each letter of appointment.
A. Description of Standard Academic Ranks
The basic qualifications and standards established to identify the degree and types of achievement expected in each rank vary among the University’s Schools and Colleges, and the various programs within them. The general descriptions are as follows:
Instructor: At the Charles River Campus, an Instructor normally holds a minimum of a Master’s degree or equivalent, has completed most or all of the requirements for the doctorate or equivalent, and is expected to demonstrate effectiveness primarily as a teacher. At the Medical Campus, Instructor is the entry level rank for those who have recently completed their post doctoral training, residency or fellowship training. This rank is appropriate for new faculty, generally with M.D., Ph.D. or equivalent degrees, who have the potential for academic advancement. Medical Campus individuals at the instructor level may be in positions of advanced training prior to leaving the institution or being promoted to the assistant professor rank.
All full-time Instructors are entitled under the by-laws of the University to attend and participate in the faculty meetings of their respective School or College. If authorized by the School or College faculty, they may have the right to vote. However, according to the Constitution of the Boston University Faculty Assembly and Faculty Council, they are not members of the Faculty Assembly.
Assistant Professor: Generally, an assistant professor has been awarded a doctoral or professional degree or equivalent, exhibits commitment to teaching and scholarly or professional work of high caliber, and participates in University affairs at least at the department level
Associate Professor: Generally, an associate professor meets the requirements for appointment as an assistant professor, enjoys a national reputation as a scholar or professional, shows a high degree of teaching proficiency and commitment, and demonstrates public, professional, or University service beyond the department
Professor: Generally, a professor meets the requirements for appointment as an associate professor, and, in addition, has a distinguished record of accomplishment that leads to an international or, as appropriate, national reputation in his or her field….http://www.bu.edu/handbook/appointments-and-promotions/classification-of-ranks-and-titles/

As college costs continue to rise, some are asking whether the classification system provides value.

Tamar Lewin reported in the New York Times article, Study Sees Benefit in Courses With Nontenured Instructors:

Students taught by untenured faculty were more likely to take a second course in the discipline and more likely to earn a better grade in the next course than those whose first course was taught by a tenured or tenure-track instructor, the report said.
The study, released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, is based on data from more than 15,000 students who arrived at Northwestern University from 2001 to 2008.
According to the authors — David N. Figlio, director of Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research; Morton O. Schapiro, the university’s president; and Kevin B. Soter, a consultant — there was “strong and consistent evidence that Northwestern faculty outside of the tenure system outperform tenure track/tenured professors in introductory undergraduate classrooms.” The differences were present across a wide variety of subject areas, the study found, and were especially pronounced for average and less-qualified students.
“Our results provide evidence that the rise of full-time designated teachers at U.S. colleges and universities may be less of a cause for alarm than some people think, and indeed, may actually be educationally beneficial,” the report said.
The fact that the study included only one university — and a selective, private research university at that — left its general applicability open to question. And, skeptics point out, there are many reasons a student might take a second class in a discipline apart from the teaching skills of the previous instructor.
“I’m kind of dubious,” said Anita Levy, a senior program officer at the American Association of University Professors. “I’m not surprised that introductory classes might be better taught by contingent faculty members simply because most tenured faculty more often teach advanced courses. My worry is that a study like this can be used to justify hiring more contingent faculty who won’t have due-process protections or job security and might not even have offices. It’s part of the just-in-time, Walmartization of higher education.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/10/education/study-sees-benefit-in-courses-with-nontenured-instructors.html?_r=1&

Citation:

Are Tenure Track Professors Better Teachers?
David N. Figlio, Morton O. Schapiro, Kevin B. Soter
NBER Working Paper No. 19406
Issued in September 2013
NBER Program(s): CH ED LS
This study makes use of detailed student-level data from eight cohorts of first-year students at Northwestern University to investigate the relative effects of tenure track/tenured versus non-tenure line faculty on student learning. We focus on classes taken during a student’s first term at Northwestern, and employ a unique identification strategy in which we control for both student-level fixed effects and next-class-taken fixed effects to measure the degree to which non-tenure line faculty contribute more or less to lasting student learning than do other faculty. We find consistent evidence that students learn relatively more from non-tenure line professors in their introductory courses. These differences are present across a wide variety of subject areas, and are particularly pronounced for Northwestern’s average students and less-qualified students.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.
Information about Free Papers
You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a “.GOV” domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.
If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.
http://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/publications/docs/workingpapers/2013/IPR-WP-13-18.pdf

This study has limitations because the sample was so small. Still, for a liberal arts or four year degree program, questions should be raised about the quality and value of instruction.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has written several articles about the plight of adjunct teaching faculty:

o ‘Chronicle’ Survey Yields a Rare Look Into Adjuncts’ Work Lives
http://chronicle.com/article/Chronicle-Survey-Yields-a/48843/

o Love of Teaching Draws Adjuncts to the Classroom Despite Low Pay
http://chronicle.com/article/Love-of-Teaching-Draws/48845/

o Full-Time Instructors Shoulder the Same Burdens That Part-Timers Do
http://chronicle.com/article/Full-Time-Instructors-Shoulder/48841/

o At One 2-Year College, Adjuncts Feel Like Outsiders
http://chronicle.com/article/At-One-2-Year-College/48844/

o Video: Voices of Adjuncts
http://chronicle.com/article/Video-Voices-of-Adjuncts/48868/

Related:

Report: Declining college teaching loads can raise the cost of college
https://drwilda.com/2013/04/02/report-declining-college-teaching-loads-can-raise-the-cost-of-college/

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Fordham Foundation report: State-by-state analysis of teacher union strength

5 Nov

Andrew J. Rotherham wrote Quiet Riot: Insurgents Take On Teachers’ Unions for Time:

Quick: Which group consistently tops the list of U.S. political donors — bankers? Oil barons? The Koch brothers? Nope. Try schoolteachers. The two major teachers’ unions, despite all the rhetoric about how teachers have no influence on policy, collectively spent more than $67 million directly on political races from 1989 to 2010. And that figure doesn’t include millions more spent by their state and local affiliates and all kinds of support for favored (read: reform-averse) candidates.

For years, union leaders have lambasted as antiteacher pretty much every proposal to expand charter schools, improve teacher evaluation and turn around low-performing schools. Yet these reform issues have moved to the mainstream as even the Democrats, traditionally labor’s biggest allies, have gotten fed up with union intransigence to structural changes to improve America’s schools. Meanwhile, states as diverse as Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio and — you guessed it — Wisconsin are attacking union prerogatives such as valuing seniority over on-the-job performance and collectively bargaining for benefits. At the same time, black and Latino parents are growing increasingly impatient with lousy schools and are organizing in an effort to provide a counterweight to the unions. Just last week, the nation’s second biggest teachers’ union, the American Federation of Teachers, was embarrassed when a PowerPoint presentation surfaced on the Web outlining strategies for undercutting parent groups. Sample quote: “What helped us? Absence of charter school and parent groups from the table.”

But perhaps the biggest strategic pressure for reform is starting to come from teachers themselves, many of whom are trying to change their unions and, by extension, their profession. These renegade groups, composed generally of younger teachers, are trying to accomplish what a generation of education reformers, activists and think tanks have not: forcing the unions to genuinely mend their ways. Here are the three most-talked-about initiatives:

The takeover artists. The Los Angeles teachers’ union, United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), has long been regarded as one of the nation’s most hidebound. But Jordan Henry, a 12-year veteran teacher, wants to change that, so last year he co-founded NewTLA. (Get it? Rhymes with UTLA? C’mon, this is education reform — we must find little bright spots wherever we can.) Henry has managed in short order to build a large dissident faction within the union. After the last union election, NewTLA holds 90 of the 350 seats in the union’s house of representatives, an impressive feat of organizing given how challenging it is for nonmainstream candidates to get much traction within the union. And although Henry is trying to change the union from within, he is not shy about criticizing it publicly, recently telling the Teach For America alumni magazine that, “I don’t think my local affiliate is a leader in reform, as much as it says it might be….”

The outsiders. Educators for Excellence (E4E) is a group of more than 3,500 New York City teachers that is to trying to change laws and policies by going straight to policymakers. For instance, when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed doing away with the current system of laying off the most recent hires first, the union attacked any notion of letting principals unilaterally pick which teachers get booted. But the newly formed E4E forced its way into the conversation and sought a middle ground, proposing an alternative that took into account such things as how often teachers had been absent, whether they were actually in front of students or in nonteaching “reserve” roles and also factoring in performance ratings. The union wasn’t enthusiastic about this approach either, but the idea got traction in Albany. And although the city and the teachers’ union cut a deal on layoffs, the episode established E4E as a voice in education policymaking….

The hybrid. Teach Plus is a network of teachers with chapters in Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Memphis and, starting this fall, Washington. The group recruits accomplished teachers who want to take on leadership roles within their schools or to advocate for public policy changes without leaving their classrooms. More than 4,500 teachers are involved so far, and about 250 have gone through selective 12- and 18-month fellowships. Teach Plus says it wants to partner with unions — albeit by bringing reformers inside the tent. Celine Coggins, a former middle-school science teacher in Massachusetts who founded the group in 2007, says many teachers often tell her that the unions “seem like my grandfather’s union, not necessarily mine….”

It’s too early to tell whether any of these groups — or even all of them working in tandem — will succeed in changing the teachers’ unions….

Disclosure: Two of my partners at Bellwether have done executive search and strategy work for Teach Plus, and I have advised the organization informally.

Teacher tenure is a huge topic in education.

People become teachers for many reasons. Among the top ten reasons to become a teacher are:

1. Student Potential

2. Student Successes

3. Teaching a Subject Helps You Learn a Subject

4. Daily Humor

5. Affecting the Future

6. Staying Younger

7. Autonomy in the Classroom

8. Conducive to Family Life

9. Job Security

10. Summers Off

For many who seek an education career, an unspoken reason for choosing education as a profession is the stability which tenure may provide.

What is Teacher Tenure?

A good basic description of teacher tenure as found at teacher tenure James gives the following definition:

WHAT IS TENURE?

Tenure is a form of job security for teachers who have successfully completed a probationary period. Its primary purpose is to protect competent teachers from arbitrary nonrenewal of contract for reasons unrelated to the educational process — personal beliefs, personality conflicts with administrators or school board members, and the like.

WHAT PROTECTION DOES TENURE OFFER THE PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER?

The type and amount of protection vary from state to state and — depending on agreements with teachers’ unions — may even vary from school district to school district. In general, a tenured teacher is entitled to due process when he or she is threatened with dismissal or nonrenewal of contract for cause: that is, for failure to maintain some clearly defined standard that serves an educational purpose.

Time has a good summary of the history of teacher tenure at A Brief History of Tenure

Huffington Post reported on a report by the Fordham Foundation about teacher unions in the article, Teachers Unions Strength Measured: Fordham Institute Report Ranks States By Power And Influence Of Teacher Unions. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/study-examines-ranks-teac_n_2039879.html

Here is the press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Stephen Manfredi
October 29, 2012 (202) 222-8028
Picket Lines and Ballot Boxes: New Study Examines Strength of Teacher Unions Nationwide

Washington, D.C.—Today the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now released the most comprehensive analysis of American teacher unions’ strength ever conducted. Published weeks after the contentious Chicago teachers’ strike and days before a hotly contested election, this timely study, How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison, ranks all fifty states and the District of Columbia according to the power and influence of their state-level unions.

Reform debates increasingly focus on the teacher unions’ role in the changing landscape of American K–12 education. Critics accuse them of blocking needed changes, protecting inadequate instructors and overpowering the public interest at the ballot box. Supporters object, arguing that unions are critical to defending teachers’ rights, ensuring teachers’ professionalism, and safeguarding them from misguided reforms.

“For better or worse, teacher unions look out for teacher interests,” said Chester E. Finn, Jr., Fordham’s president. “This study sheds light on how exactly they do this, by measuring their strength, state by state, more comprehensively than any other analysis to date. It illuminates their power to hinder—or promote—education reform, on whether what occurred in Chicago could happen anywhere in the United States, and the myriad ways they seek to influence election outcomes and policy decisions.”

To assess union strength, the Fordham-ERN study examined thirty-seven different variables across five realms: 1) Resources and Membership; 2) Involvement in Politics; 3) Scope of Bargaining; 4) State Policies; and 5) Perceived Influence. Using these data, analysts ranked the relative strength of state-level teacher unions in fifty-one jurisdictions (all states plus the District of Columbia), and ranked their strength and influence. The study analyzed factors ranging from union membership and revenue to state bargaining laws to campaign contributions, and included such measures such as the alignment between specific state policies and traditional union interests and a unique stakeholder survey.

The report sorts the fifty-one jurisdictions into five tiers, ranking their teacher unions from strongest to weakest. This review determined that Hawaii has the strongest teacher union in the U.S. while Arizona has the weakest. (COMPLETE STATE RANKINGS CAN BE VIEWED BELOW) The entire study can also be viewed at http://www.edexcellence.net/publications/how-strong-are-us-teacher-unions.html

Other findings include:

 Teacher strikes, such as the one recently concluded in Chicago, are legal in fourteen states and illegal in thirty-seven.
 In the 2010 state election cycle, teacher unions were one of the top-ten overall donors to candidates for governor and other executive positions, legislature, high court, and elected education positions in twenty-two of forty-eight states. In twenty one states, they were among the top five highest-giving interest groups.
 The percentage of a state’s teachers who are union members varies a lot; in 2008, the nationwide average was 74 percent; in two states it was lower than 35 percent; in sixteen states, 90 percent or more of teachers are unionized.
 Thirty-two states require local school boards to bargain collectively with their teachers, fourteen states permit this, and five states prohibit collective bargaining.
 The unions’ influence may be waning at the state level, however. For the three years prior to the 2011 legislative session, education policies in most states reflected union priorities. In 2011, however, a growing number of legislatures were enacting policies that were less in line with union priorities. (And other sources indicate that many teacher unions are losing members and incurring budget deficits.)
The report has four key takeaways:

1. Mandatory bargaining tilts the playing field in favor of stronger unions overall. It not only increases union resources and status, but also ensures issues are “on the table” (and not under the direct authority of state and local leaders).

2. The scope of bargaining matters a lot, too, as does the right (or not) to strike. Local unions use collective bargaining and strikes to protect teacher interests—but only on issues allowed by state law. When a wide scope of bargaining combines with ill-defined, timid, or absent state policies, unions have better opportunity to negotiate contracts that serve their goals.

3. Resources make a difference. Dollars and members are both important—even (or especially) if unions have limited bargaining rights. With higher revenue, a state union can better finance its lobbying and advocacy efforts at the statehouse, shaping policies that protect its interests while undermining or blocking those that do not. Greater membership means more union representation at the ballot box, more communications with state leaders, and more boots on the ground during rallies and campaigns—and in turn, more revenue from member dues.

4. The fact that a state has mandatory, permissive, or broad bargaining laws—or its unions enjoy abundant resources—does not mean that state policies are union-favorable and vice-versa. Many unions that have mandatory bargaining over a wide range of issues and high membership and revenue still see state education policies that are not particularly favorable to unions. Conversely, some states without strong bargaining rights have union-friendly policies regardless. That’s because other factors matter, too: state leadership (both past and present), federal policy, the condition of the economy, the influence of other key stakeholders, and the state’s own macro-politics.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is committed to the renewal and reform of primary and secondary education in the United States. Education Reform Now is a nonpartisan organization that envisions an America in which every child, regardless of class or race, has the social and economic opportunities afforded by an excellent public education. How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison was authored by Amber M. Winkler, Janie Scull, and Dara Zeehandelaar, with a foreword by Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli. Generous support for this report was provided by the Bodman Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and Education Reform Now, as well as by our sister organization, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. For further information about this study, and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, please visit us online at http://www.edexcellence.net.

Citation:

How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison

Foreword by Chester E. Finn, Jr. , Michael J. Petrilli

Filed under: Teachers

This timely study represents the most comprehensive analysis of American teacher unions’ strength ever conducted, ranking all fifty states and the District of Columbia according to the power and influence of their state-level unions. To assess union strength, the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now examined thirty-seven different variables across five realms:

1) Resources and Membership

2) Involvement in Politics

3) Scope of Bargaining

4) State Policies

5) Perceived Influence

The study analyzed factors ranging from union membership and revenue to state bargaining laws to campaign contributions, and included such measures such as the alignment between specific state policies and traditional union interests and a unique stakeholder survey. The report sorts the fifty-one jurisdictions into five tiers, ranking their teacher unions from strongest to weakest and providing in-depth profiles of each.

Download the state profiles (Click your state to download):

Full Report

The strength of teacher unions in the U.S.

How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions?

Background about teachers unions:

Debate: Are Teachers Unions The Problem or The Answer?

NPR: The Role of Teachers Unions In Education

Reform and the Teachers Unions

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