Screening airline passengers for the TSA is respectable work—though it can't be very stimulating—but it was depressing to be screened today at Dulles by a former high school physics and math teacher, with a master’s in education and six to eight years of classroom experience. When I remarked that "We really need physics and math teachers," he responded that "the kids come to class without knowing basic arithmetic." I responded that "The middle schools aren't doing their job, eh?" And he said: "The elementary schools aren't doing their job, either." Better, I guess—obviously so in his mind—to examine a hundred drivers' licenses and boarding passes before breakfast than to struggle with kids who aren't prepared to learn what you're trying to teach them.
Today, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now are releasing the most comprehensive analysis of American teacher unions’ strength ever conducted. Published weeks after the contentious Chicago teachers’ strike and days before a hotly contested election, this timely study, How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison, ranks all fifty states and the District of Columbia according to the power and influence of their state-level unions.
Download How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions: A State-By-State Comparison.
To assess union strength, the Fordham-ERN study examined thirty-seven different variables across five realms:
- Resources and Membership;
- Involvement in Politics;
- Scope of Bargaining;
- State Policies; and
- Perceived Influence.
Using these data, analysts ranked the relative strength of state-level teacher unions in fifty-one jurisdictions (all states plus the District of Columbia). The study analyzed factors ranging from union membership and revenue to state bargaining laws to campaign contributions, and included such measures such as the alignment between specific state policies and traditional union interests and a unique stakeholder survey.
Download the full study to see how your state stacked up.
Hurricane Sandy shouldn't distract you from Fordham's new study.
Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
I know, I know, I couldn’t help myself, but when you release a huge study on the same day as the “storm of the century,” you gotta work with what you’ve got!
Today the Thomas B. Fordham Institute released a path-breaking study, How Strong are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State by State Comparison. (The short answer? Pretty damn powerful, though, like Hurricane Sandy as she makes landfall, weakening precipitously.)
Download How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions?
The report uses thirty-seven separate indicators and a massive survey of education “insiders” to determine the relative strength of the teacher unions from coast to coast. Rather than just look at the percentage of teachers who belong to a union—the proxy most analysts have used for union strength for pretty much forever—we also examined measures like the dollars spent on campaign advertising, the degree to which unions have won major policy battles in
Last month’s strike in Chicago? Settled. Its meaning? Not so much. Next Wednesday, Stanford University’s teacher-union guru Terry Moe and Democrats for Education Reform’s Joe Williams will debate the future of teacher unions and whether they should retain expansive collective bargaining and striking rights. Register now to attend or webcast "After Chicago: The future of teacher unions" from 2p.m. to 3:30p.m. ET on October 17.
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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