We’ve all heard the myth, and many of us may have once believed it….
“Damn teachers unions are the biggest problem with education; they allow bad teachers to stay in position, not be fired, and the good teachers have to quit or go to other opportunities… This lowers teaching quality.”
If someone says it forcefully we nod in agreement because in our job site, we know of people who probably should be replaced by someone younger and with more energy. So without thinking, we take it as truth….. and echo: yea! Those damn lazy teachers unions….
If we gave it any thought, there might be some initial questions popping up in our heads…
For one, why do states with strong union laws have much brighter children than states who boast of their non-union environment? Its true. Massachusetts and Minnesota are two of the top, the South is almost all at the bottom.
For two, we must question why would teachers who were trashed and paid less, be able to teach better than teachers who were rewarded by their strong union’s negotiating power, and financially comfortable?
For three, we have to look at who with plenty of teachers to choose from, would give job security and tenure to bad teachers, while the good teachers got fired early and sent on their way?
When “thought” gets applied toward this myth, it “pokes holes in it real quick”.
But really it always got chalked up to one person’s theory versus another… If you didn’t like unions, you supported the anti-union clause because there was no evidence to prove you wrong. If you didn’t like bosses, you supported the solidarity of union membership and there was no evidence to prove you wrong… And the argument went back and forth…
An exhaustive comprehensive study was done on one third of the nation’s teachers and their evidence shows that strong unions increase the quality of teachers, and right to work policies, decrease the quality of teachers…
They studied data from schools, districts, and states in union areas and compared them to other schools, districts, and states in right to work areas. And the data fell right in line with what common sense as shown in the three questions above, would predict…..
They also found out why. Here is what happens in a strong unionized district.
The data confirms that, compared to districts with weak unionism, districts with strong unionism dismiss more low-quality teachers and retain more high-quality teachers. The empirical analysis shows that this dynamic of teacher turnover in highly unionized districts raises average teacher quality and improves student achievement.
Recently events allowed a test of this hypothesis. Four states changed from mandatory collective bargaining to right to work. Wisconsin, Indiana, Idaho, and Tennessee. If there was no effect by unions, their scores, their graduation rates, their teacher attrition, their overall teacher quality, would stay the same.
They didn’t. All four dropped downward since they barred collective bargaining showing that in the real world this myth has nothing backing it.
Strong union schools have higher salaries than weak union schools. Strong union districts have lower teacher attrition than weak union districts, but actually have more firings for quality reasons, than schools in non-union states, who can’t afford to fire teachers because of their higher attrition rate. They struggle to get enough teachers in their schools as it is.
Likewise the percentage of teachers entering the educational profession through an “alternative certification program”(emergency-only help) is much lower in strong union areas, and much higher in strong right to work areas.
When packaged together, the empirical evidence aligns with the hypothesis that children in strong union areas, receive better teaching than in areas of less union activity….
We always knew it; now we can prove it.