ERIC Number: EJ763333
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Reference Count: N/A
Strike Phobia: School Boards Need to Drive a Harder Bargain
Hess, Frederick M.; West, Martin R.
Education Next, v6 n3 p39-48 Sum 2006
Four decades after collective bargaining came to public education, school boards and the superintendents they hire still routinely blame teacher unions for causing massive inefficiencies, stifling innovation, and preventing change designed to promote student learning. "Our hands are tied," school boards commonly complain when school budgets are debated or far-reaching reforms are proposed. Unacknowledged is that every contract provision--from the lockstep salary schedules that reward longevity over excellence to the rigid work rules that dictate the rhythms of school life--was agreed to by those very same school boards. In this article, the authors discuss the collective bargaining agreements in public schools and stress the need for school boards to drive a harder bargain. The authors recognize that school boards are relatively weak governing bodies, composed of part-timers with other obligations, limited expertise, and little incentive to engage in contentious negotiations. They stress that board positions need to be made more attractive and augmented with research and staff support, or districts need to move toward alternative forms of governance in which the costs of inefficiency and lagging achievement become intolerable. Above all, school-board members and those who elect them must never lose sight of the fact that collective bargaining is an adversarial process.
Descriptors: Unions, Role, Conflict of Interest, Teacher Salaries, Public Education, Collective Bargaining, Public School Teachers, Negotiation Agreements, Teacher Strikes, Boards of Education, Governance, Teacher Dismissal, Contracts
Hoover Institution. Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Tel: 800-935-2882; Fax: 650-723-8626; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.hoover.org/publications/ednext
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Kentucky