Tag Archives: Thomas B. Fordham Institute

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

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

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

Where information leads to Hope. © Dr. Wilda.com

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

Blogs by Dr. Wilda:

COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©
http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©
http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda ©
https://drwilda.com/

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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