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.
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Published April 13, 2012 |
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 grass roots 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.

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 teacher unions present today.
 
In Chicago, the Chicago Federation of Teachers was formed in 1897, and leaders of the movement like Margaret Haley and Catherine Goggin rallied other teachers in
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Published March 23, 2012 |
A new survey from MetLife shows teachers are less satisfied with their jobs than they were in 2009 and provides suggestions from teachers for improvement in student achievement.
In the midst of budget cuts, dismal performance ratings and other challenges, it does not appear public schools need any more bad news. However, a recently released survey indicates school districts have yet another worry on their plates: teacher satisfaction across the country is at its lowest point in two decades. Why are teachers feeling less-than-loving toward their career choices? It appears the answer may be somewhat complex, but there is a bright spot in the news as well – some teachers have provided insight into how to improve classroom environment and teacher satisfaction ratings at the same time.

The MetLife Survey
 
The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher has offered input from educators, administrators and policy makers since the first survey was conducted in 1984. The survey is done annually by Harris Interactive, and it examines views about the teaching profession and the economic impact on teaching and learning in schools, according to the MetLife website. The views of teachers, parents and students are all accounted for in the yearly research.
 
The first survey was introduced after the Reagan administration issued its “Nation at Risk” report, which was quoted in the Huffington Post as saying, “The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity.” This report set off sweeping education reform that left many teachers feeling less than secure. At that time, the survey emerged amidst ideas that discussions about education should include the voices of teachers.
 
In this year’s
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Updated October 10, 2013 |
Non-Profit Organizations Now Allowed to Run Failing Schools in New Jersey
As a part of his Urban Hope Act, Governor Christie will now allow non-profit organizations to run failing schools in the state. Learn more about what this means for public schools in New Jersey.
Despite the fact that New Jersey boasts a higher per-pupil expenditure in public education than any other state in the country, many of the public schools across the state are failing to provide the quality education students need to succeed today. This is particularly true in low-income cities like Camden, Trenton and Newark, where high school graduation rates fall well below the state average. Concerned with the data coming out of his school districts, Governor Chris Christie promised to make 2011 the year of education reform. His first legislative victory to that end will go into effect in 2012, allowing non-profit organizations to construct new schools in failing areas of the state.

The Urban Hope Act
 
The recent bill signed by Governor Christie, known as the “Urban Hope Act,” is a 10-year pilot program that allows non-profits to build and run schools in low-income areas of the state. According to a report at Bloomberg, these schools, referred to as “renaissance schools,” will be located in the cities of Trenton, Newark and Camden – currently classified as some of the poorest cities in the country. Groups interested in taking on a school construction project may apply through local school boards first and then through the state department of education. As many as four schools in each city will be allowed.
 
“This is an innovative idea that allows us to partner with folks who will bring capital to the table to build these schools,” Christie told NJ.com
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Updated December 10, 2014 |
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 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 should be aggressively recruited into teaching careers.
 
“Parents
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Published May 26, 2011 |
The controversy about Washington DC test scores under Michelle Rhee gets some resolution, as standardized test scores are invalidated due to questionably high erasures. Learn more about what the official investigation found.
Standardized tests have come under fire once again in Washington D.C., as the results in three schools have now been thrown out due to testing procedure violations and allegations of impropriety. The city has also implemented tighter security guidelines and is monitoring more schools for testing irregularities each year, according to a report at WAMU. The results of this investigation have resulted in specific measures being taken to ensure the integrity of the testing process in the future. However, questions still remain about how Washington D.C. schools ended up in this position in the first place and whether high stakes testing is to blame for the problems.

A History of Washington D.C. Test Issues
 
Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of Washington D.C. schools, sang the praises of many of the schools that raised their standardized test scores by astronomical numbers under her watch. Rhee used the test results as evidence that her sometimes unpopular methods of education reform were working. One school in particular, Noyes Education Campus, showed two-year gains that were nearly unheard of in the public education system. However, the school also displayed an unusually high number of erasures on their tests, which raised the eyebrows of some education officials and the media.
 
USA Today was all over the concerns and looked at other schools within the city to see if questionable results could be discovered. The publication performed an extensive investigation into test results in Washington D.C. and found that as many as 103
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