We decided to do some research to see what we could find in the way of articles or studies to try and help answer that question. We’ll present what we found here for your review. In the end you make the decision as to whether the unions are a PLUS or a MINUS.
We first reached out to the Battle Ground Teachers Association and told them we were preparing a blog story and asked them to share any information by March 15th if they were interested. The 15th came and went with no interactions or response. Next we reached out to the Washington Education Association (WEA) and asked them to share any information no later than the end of March. As we publish this article neither of the groups chose to respond in any fashion. As we release this article in early June 2017 we can’t get a response from any teachers union.
Let’s provide some background with a focus on Washington State teachers unions:
According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) we offer the following facts: http://www.k12.wa.us/AboutUs/KeyFacts.aspx
- Total Classroom Teachers: 64,323
- Elementary teachers: 31,881
- Secondary teachers: 24,982
- Total students (end of 2016 school year): 1,088,959
In 2016 the Washington Education Association (WEA – the state teachers union):(Details can be seen in this link) raised a LOT of money to further their aims and goals – http://web.pdc.wa.gov/MvcQuerySystem/Committee/single_year_committees?year=2016
We went searching for articles on the topic and found:
Teachers Unions, Faulty Economics, And School Choice – from Jeffrey Dorfman at Forbes: He says school choice is really about teacher security not children
Teachers unions in a panic over school choice – It’s an Op-Ed: Perhaps what threatens teachers unions the most is the prospect of a renewed focus on accountability, competition and choice in education. Parents want the best education for their students. Whether education is made available via traditional public schools, charter schools or private schools, what ultimately matters is whether students actually receive the best education they can get.
Are teachers’ unions, as they exist today, helping to ensure high performing schools? This is a survey: 3 Yes; 4 No’s and 8 comments
There are a LOT more articles that address the topic and for every 1 that says teachers unions are a positive there are ~5 that say they do more harm than good. Those articles that support teachers unions appear to have been written by the unions or financially supported by them…if so…then they are biased.
Should public employees have the right to unionize and strike since they are paid for by the public? President Roosevelt (a staunch liberal Democrat) from the 1930’s said no.
The power that teachers unions wield is significant. They are focused on their needs and interests…which makes sense. But are the needs of the Union the best interests of students?
Teachers unions don’t want any school type except public because that’s where their power exists. As public schools have lost population due to parents going private or religious or home schooling the impact on their future power has started to cause worry in their leadership. They protect their members but we all have examples of teachers that should have left the profession long ago but…due to unions…are still there.
Finally, the USDoE was created with support from…the National Education Association (NEA) which is teachers unions. Read this article: http://the74million.org/article/analysis-the-us-department-of-education-born-in-the-nea Notice that the NEA was instrumental in getting the Dept created and see what it’s led to.
In the end you need to decide whether teachers union’s are to be supported or resisted. To us the evidence suggests that teachers unions are more negative than positive.
There are a LOT of dedicated teachers. Teachers who care, love their work, are really good at what they do and consider it their life’s calling. Those people would likely excel whether a union was involved or not. We appreciate and revere quality teachers and believe they should be among the best paid profession.
Update: We found this story about the WEA running an Ad that the writer claims is chock full of…incorrect information (to be kind): https://smartergovernmentwa.org/state-teachers-unions-radio-ad-one-big-lie/