Sunday, September 7, 2014

– Evidence Says That Students Do Better In Schools With Strong Teachers’ Unions

– Evidence Says That Students Do Better In Schools With Strong Teachers’ Unions:

Evidence Says That Students Do Better In Schools With Strong Teachers’ Unions


In the current anti-union climate in the U.S., there may not be any group of unions that has been singled out for more criticism than teachers’ unions. Unions such as the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have been blamed by politicians, think tanks, and the public for everything from low student achievement to blocking proposed education reforms.
However, despite claims from some quarters that unions are a large part of the problem with American public education, there is ample evidence that teachers’ unions are a vital piece of the education puzzle, and that students benefit from their existence.
The right likes to depict teachers’ unions as “old style” labor unions: monolithic and intransigent, with union locals taking orders from national “union bosses,” ready to strike and disrupt a school district at a moment’s notice. Harvard University study by Professor Susan Moore Johnson found that nothing could be further from the truth. Johnson says:
Many people think that national unions dictate school practice. They don’t realize how much is determined at the local level when contracts are negotiated. Contracts, each of which is locally negotiated, establish pay and working conditions — hours, class size, and evaluation — for teachers. Collective bargaining provides a legal, structured process in which local unions and management can develop reforms, such as peer review or performance-based pay.
So contrary to what anti-union politicians would like the public to think, union locals play a vital role in working with school districts to create reforms at the district or even the building level. In fact Johnson and her colleagues at Harvard interviewed 30 union local presidents from six states, and reported that they were surprised to find that “most presidents at the local level were not robotically focused on the traditional union agenda of better pay, better benefits, and better conditions.”
According to Harvard doctoral student Morgaen Donaldson, who worked with Johnson on the study:
I was surprised by how much variation there was in the presidents’ views. In some instances, presidents of unions in adjacent districts had diametrically opposed positions on innovations in teacher pay or how aggressive to be with management. This study taught me that there really is no monolithic teachers union. Policy and practice are made daily in districts and through relationships among local leaders.
During the 2011 labor strife in Wisconsin caused by Governor Scott Walker’s attack on public employee unions, union opponents such as state senator Glenn Grothman claimed that “strong unionization” had hurt Wisconsin students and had caused a drop in NAEP (National Assessment Of Educational Progress) test scores. Union supporters questioned Grothman, pointing out that – Evidence Says That Students Do Better In Schools With Strong Teachers’ Unions: