Pushing away from CBAs
Reform-minded legislators in a number of states have begun to challenge teacher evaluation and tenure practices, and some aren’t stopping there. Lawmakers in Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, and Tennessee have all recently introduced bills that would either limit the scope of collective bargaining to wages and benefits or ban the practice altogether. Proponents argue that eliminating the ability to bargain—particularly over policies such as class size and schedules and hours—will allow school leaders more freedom to set policies best fitted for their schools. In doing so, schools will be able to spend money in a more efficient and targeted manner. Teacher unions, not surprisingly, are none too keen on the idea of losing their right to be at the table. But any lawmakers who think they can ease the grip of teacher unions simply by eliminating collective bargaining should think again. As veteran analysts of the education politics of Right to Work states can attest, teachers groups simply get protections written into state law. While collective-bargaining agreements no doubt add to the restrictions under which most schools and school systems operate, they’re just one piece of a larger puzzle.
“States Aim to Curb Collective Bargaining,” by Stephen Sawchuk, Education Week, February 9, 2011.
“Indiana panel OKs bill limiting teacher bargaining,” by Deanna Martin, Boston Globe, January 27, 2011.
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