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ERIC Number: ED537563
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Oct
Pages: 405
Abstractor: ERIC
How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-by-State Comparison
Winkler, Amber M.; Scull, Janie; Zeehandelaar, Dara
Thomas B. Fordham Institute
In recent years, debates over school reform have increasingly focused on the role of teacher unions in the changing landscape of American K-12 education. On one hand, critics argue that these unions, using their powerful grip on education politics and policy to great effect, bear primary responsibility for blocking states' efforts to put into place overdue reforms that will drive major-league gains in the educational system. Such critics contend that the unions generally succeed at preserving teacher job security and other interests, and do so at the expense of improved opportunities for kids. On the other side, the authors find union defenders who stoutly maintain that these organizations are bulwarks of professionalism in education, that their power is greatly exaggerated, that their opposition to misguided reforms is warranted, and that they couldn't possibly account for achievement woes--considering that highly unionized states perform at least as well as any others (and better than many) on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and other indicators. This debate has taken on an international aspect, too, as critics of U.S. reform initiatives (and defenders of unions) point out that teachers are unionized all over the world, including nearly all the countries that surpass the U.S. on comparative achievement measures such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). Both sides agree that, for better or worse, teacher unions look out for teacher interests. This study sheds light on how they use politics to do this, by measuring teacher union strength, state by state, more comprehensively than any other study to date. It sought answers to three questions: (1) What elements are potential sources of a union's strength (i.e., inputs)?; (2) How might unions wield power in terms of behavior and conduct (i.e., processes and activities)?; and (3) What are signs that they have gotten their way (i.e., outcomes)? To gauge union strength at the state level, the authors gathered and synthesized data for thirty-seven different variables across five broad areas: (1) Resources and Membership; (2) Involvement in Politics; (3) Scope of Bargaining; (4) State Policies; and (5) Perceived Influence. Appended are: (1) Detailed Methodology and Rationale; and (2) State-Level NEA and AFT Affiliates. Individual state reports contain tables, footnotes and endnotes. [Foreword by Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli. Additional funding for this paper was provided by Education Reform Now.]
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Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
Authoring Institution: Thomas B. Fordham Institute
Identifiers - Location: United States
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: National Assessment of Educational Progress; Program for International Student Assessment; Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study