In light of the regular attacks on teachers unions, I thought a “The Best…” list highlighting their benefits would be useful.
These attacks are exemplified by this satire at “Ed Tweak”:
Davis Guggenheim today received an Oscar
nomination for best adapted screenplay, for his
heart-wrenching film Waiting for Superman.
The movie screenplay, based on the book
“Teacher Unions: Spawn of Satan,” combines
the documentary and horror genres in a way
never before seen. It tells the story of five children
as they try to escape from unionized teachers who are, in fact, zombies and vampires.
I’m very interested in hearing suggestions about additional articles I should include.
Here are my choices for The Best Resources For Learning Why Teachers Unions Are Important:
In defense of teachers’ unions by Ken Bernstein
In Praise of Teacher’s Unions by Matt Yglesias
The real effect of teachers union contracts by Matthew Di Carlo
Matthew’s follow-up post, Teacher Contracts: The Phantom Menace
How a teachers’ union actually helped kids (not just adults) by Anthony Cody
It’s Not the Teachers’ Unions at The American Prospect
Rethinking Schools has a number of related articles and resources.
Teachers Unions, ACT/SAT, and Student Performance: Is Wisconsin Out-Ranking the Non-Union States? is a very important post by Angus Johnston. He examines the research connecting the role of teachers unions to student achievement.
I’m going to print an excerpt here, but you’re making a mistake if you don’t read his entire post:
There’s only been one scholarly effort to tackle this problem that I’m aware of. Back in 2000, three professors writing in the Harvard Educational Review did a statistical analysis of state SAT/ACT scores, controlling for factors like race, median income, and parental education. They found that the presence of teachers unions in a state did have a measurable and significant correlation with increased test scores — that going to school in a union state would, for instance, raise average SATs by about 50 points.
Two other findings leap out from the Harvard Educational Review study. First, they concluded that Southern states’ poor academic performance could be explained almost entirely by that region’s lack of unionization, even when you didn’t take socioeconomic differences into account.
And second, and to my mind far more interesting, they found that concrete improvements in the educational environment associated with teachers’ unions — lower class sizes, higher state spending on education, bigger teacher salaries — accounted for very little of the union/non-union variation. Teachers’ unions, in other words, don’t just help students by reducing class sizes or increasing educational spending. In their conclusion, they stated that
“other mechanism(s) (ie, better working conditions; greater worker autonomy, security, and dignity; improved administration; better training of teachers; greater levels of faculty professionalism) must be at work here.”
Teachers, Their Unions and the American Education Reform Agenda is a report issued by National Center on Education and the Economy.
Even with all of its faults, I’m sticking with the union is by Peter Schrag.
Scapegoating is by Richard Kahlenberg.
Unions pivotal to U.S. future is from The Sacramento Bee and has a nice section in it about teacher unions.
Why I Support the Teachers Unions is by E.D. Kain at Forbes.
Unions and the Public Interest is by Richard D. Kahlenberg.
Bipartisan, But Unfounded: The Assault On Teachers’ Unions is by Richard Kahlenberg.
Blame It All On Teachers Unions is by Walt Gardner at Education Week.
Additional suggestions are welcome.
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You might also want to explore the over 600 other “The Best…” lists I’ve compiled.