Teachers and Unions

A comprehensive look at teachers, tenure, and unions. Learn how unions impact school performance. Explore the impact of education reform on teaching qualification standards, traditional unions and controversial tenure rules.

View the most popular articles in Teachers and Unions:

Why Are Things Becoming More Difficult For Public School Teachers?

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Why Are Things Becoming More Difficult For Public School Teachers?
Being a teacher has never been easy but changes in federal funding and legislation have made it harder than ever for public school teachers. Keep reading to learn more.

Public school teachers have a wonderful opportunity to shape the minds of the next generation. There is a great deal of satisfaction that comes from making an impact on a child’s life, but being a teacher isn’t always easy – especially in public school.

Teachers have always faced challenges but, in recent years, it seems to be getting more and more difficult for public school teachers to do their jobs well. Keep reading to learn about some of the current challenges facing public school teachers and what they could mean for the future.

What Are the Biggest Challenges Teachers Face?

With changes in public policy and legislation, the U.S. education system is constantly changing. Before we get into the details about recent changes which have introduced new challenges for public school teachers, let’s discuss some of the ongoing challenges teachers face in general. Here are a few:

  • Poorly behaved students
  • Limited resources and finances
  • Difficult parents
  • Federal requirements and standardized tests
  • Time constraints

It is difficult enough to wrangle an elementary-age child but being responsible for a classroom full of them is another challenge entirely. When you throw in behavioral problems, it only makes it more difficult. Not only do you have to deal with poorly behaved students, but because you are forced to dedicate extra time to those students, the rest of the class may be neglected. Plus, taking the time to deal with behavioral problems takes away time you could be teaching.

Another major challenge that public-school teachers face

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Unions Head to Court to Stop School Closures

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Unions Head to Court to Stop School Closures
In an evolving story out of New York, teacher unions have sued the school district to prevent them from following through with proposed school closures.

In an attempt to stop school closures across New York City, teacher unions are taking their case to the courtroom. Union members have called the closure of 24 schools a “sham,” used by the mayor and his team to oust teachers by stripping them of their contractual rights. City officials have said the closures are necessary for raising the education bar throughout the city and have denounced union members as obstacles in providing the best quality of education to New York City students.

The Plan to Close Schools

The school closure plan was put into place last month when the Panel for Educational Policy voted to close 24 under-performing schools over the summer. According to a report at NY1, new schools would immediately open to replace the closed schools this fall, with schools meeting in the same buildings under new names and leadership. Teachers and principals who have been working in those locations up to this point will have to reapply for their jobs in the new schools next year. City officials predict only about half of current staff will be rehired, with the rest made up of new applicants.

Because the buildings will technically house new schools, contractual obligations with the current staff of the old schools will not apply. This allows the city to move forward with plans to get rid of ineffective teachers, replacing them with stronger applicants. The union has no intention of allowing this plan to go through unhindered, stating that the

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Are Teacher Unions a Help or Hindrance to Public Education?

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Are Teacher Unions a Help or Hindrance to Public Education?
In light of all the finger-pointing occurring in the education reform movement, we’ll look at the good and bad of teachers unions – and whether these organizations really work in favor of students and/or teachers.

Teacher unions have been a part of American education for well over a century, beginning with grassroots efforts to support teachers through improved salaries, benefits, and working conditions. The two national organizations, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA), have paved the way for dozens of state and local teacher associations, often referred to as Independent Education Associations (IEAs). In light of education reform gaining speed nationwide, these teacher unions have recently been put in the spotlight – either as the major hurdle standing in the way of true reform, or a potentially valuable tool in bringing about the sort of change needed in education today.

This video offers an overview of the National Education Association.

History of the Teacher Union

According to the PBS website, the early beginnings of the teacher union can be traced all the way back to the early years of the 20th century, when city boards of education began the first efforts at education reform. While this early focus was positive in some respects - including raising the standards of teaching, ensuring student achievement, and rooting out corruption - teachers at the time did not feel like a significant part of the reform process. Teachers rebelled against the changes implemented by business leaders and education bureaucrats, and they began forming local associations that eventually grew into the

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Is Traditional Teacher Tenure On Its Way Out?

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Is Traditional Teacher Tenure On Its Way Out?
States across the country are revising teacher evaluation standards in hopes of finding more effective ways to reward outstanding teachers and deal with those who don’t make the grade.

Teacher tenure has been in existence since the beginning of the 20th century, as a way to protect teachers from discrimination or arbitrary firing. However, many argue today that the very system designed to protect teachers is now hurting students, due to its inability to reward exceptional instructors or get rid of those who are consistently shown to be ineffective in the classroom. As states across the country struggle to find methods of evaluating teachers, powerful unions are fighting them every step of the way. However, in a few cases, the battle is resulting in a reasonable compromise that ultimately ensures students receive the highest possible quality of education by those at the front of the classroom every day.

Analysis Shows Teacher Tenure Weakening Nationwide

According to the Washington Post, a recent analysis by the National Council on Teacher Quality shows that support for traditional tenure rules weakening across the country. Some states have already done away with tenure rules altogether, while others are looking into revamping the guidelines to link evaluations to teacher performance rather than just seniority. Those in favor of the process believe performance-based evaluations will help reward good teachers and get rid of ineffective instructors. Those opposed, including many teachers’ unions, say the new rules may hurt morale and deny teachers due process.

The recent data from the National Council on Teacher Quality shows the tide may be turning. In 2009, no state regarded student performance as

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New Poll Shows Parents Value Teacher Quality Over Unions for Improving Public Schools

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New Poll Shows Parents Value Teacher Quality Over Unions for Improving Public Schools
The recent Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll shows that three in four parents trust school teachers over unions and believe effective teachers are the key to improving quality in public schools.

A new Gallup poll suggests that while most adults in this country are not thrilled with the state of public education today, they are supportive of the teachers responsible for the education of their children. The survey showed that three in four Americans have “trust and confidence in public school teachers,” but do not think much of teachers’ unions or the government when it comes to the current quality of education. The poll comes at an interesting time in public education history, when tight budgets, concern over academic performance and teacher layoffs have become commonplace across the country.

About the Poll

The recent survey was conducted by Gallup and Phi Delta Kappa International, a professional education association. The poll interviewed 1,000 people on some of the most compelling topics in the education world today, including teacher quality, the role of unions, and school vouchers. The results were announced and explained at a news conference at George Washington University last week.

Support for Teachers

The survey found that of the 75 percent who said they have the confidence of public school teachers, the highest rates of trust were found among parents, those with college degrees, and people who were younger than 40, according to a report at the Huffington Post. The same number also believed that teachers should have more control over their lessons. Two-thirds would support their children becoming public school teachers, and even more, thought that high-achieving high school students

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