Total Pageviews

Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Do we need Teacher's Unions?

From the Shanker Blog

by Matt DiCarlo

I sometimes hear people – often very smart and reasonable people – talk about whether “we need teachers’ unions.” These statements frequently take the form of, “We wouldn’t need teachers’ unions if…,” followed by some counterfactual situation such as “teachers were better-paid.” In most cases, these kinds of musings reflect “pro-teacher” sentiments – they point out the things that are wrong with public education, and that without these things unions would be unnecessary.

I’d just like to make a very quick comment about this line of reasoning, one that is intended to be entirely non-hostile. The question of whether or not “we need teachers’ unions,” though often well-intentioned, is inappropriate.

It’s not up to “us.” The choice belongs to teachers.

Laws pertaining to unions and collective bargaining are of course highly complex, and light years outside the realm of my personal expertise, but the right of workers to organize is grounded in the rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of assembly. Americans have a Constitutionally-guaranteed right to get together, pool resources, and advocate for what they believe – whether in the form of a labor organization, a small protest, or a celebrity fan club.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about whether collective bargaining should be limited to certain areas, or taken away entirely – it’s a free country – but the freedom to form a union is fundamental and, at least in theory, is protected by law. In the case of teachers, unions exist because teachers want a voice in their workplace. That is why, even in states where collective bargaining is prohibited or restricted, and membership (and dues) is purely voluntary, teachers’ unions can still be influential.

So, I say we should be careful about discussing any unions – for teachers or any workers – in terms of whether or not the rest of us need or want them. Not only does it sort of imply that “we” know what’s best for these workers, but, if you’ll permit me a slight overstatement, asking if we need unions is just a step or two away from asking whether we need freedom.


  1. I have to say with regards to Unions, "a rotten apple can spoil an entire bunch". Have you "shadowed" kids in schools these days? People have forgotten the concept of teaching. As ususal with any organization, it has been corrupted. Teachers dont teach, they get away with abuse, both physical and verbal (have you watched the news lately? parents get arrested for spanking their child for acting up and disruption the classroom at school and a teacher gets off for beating the crap out of a kid even though there is a vivid video showing that the kid never laid a hand on the teacher.). Teachers don't teach. Bad parents pawn their kids off into a system that demand them to and kids that hunger for knowledge get pushed to the wasteside with mandates, no child left behind ( at least the hack off version of whta teachers can get away with teaching for) and all the testing, testing, testing. what happened to the teaching? Not everyone should teach and not everone should be in school either. Sorry. That is how I feel. I have seen it first hand in my son's classrooms. With this being said,,, all these failing schools and the bad teachers need to be "segregated" into those schools along with their horrible parents that want to pawn the responsibility off on someone else. That way all the law abiding respectful and teachers that have a passion for teaching and can capitave an audicence with their finess of teaching style can educate our youth. That way they can grow up and get jobs to take care of their responsibilites and their dreams. If you are hungry, you will find a way to eat. If any of those kids who disrupt class, disrespect authority one day becomes hungry ,,, they will find a way to get out and to learn. Simple as that. meanwhile all the children that are being pushed to the waste side because teachers are too busy trying to keep order and control of the classrooms instead of teaching,,, CAN TEACH AND KIDS CAN LEARN... AND the abusive teachers that only care about a paycheck and the unions and DCF that backs them,,, they can go to those schools. That way everyone is happy and our Educational system can maybe be fixed. remember... no child will be left behind but as with a three strikes rule,, that is how kids will end up there. That is how I view it. And merrit,,, teachers can get pay based on performance,,, just like everyone else in America and other countries do. they get paid for performance. At least the obstacles for those performance reviews will be easier to reach. And the bad teachers will have a chance to redeem themselves too. They will also get the three strikes rule before they go there. All will have a chance. Just the ones that deserve it will have chances that they are not at the present time awarded in public schools. I have never seen anything like it. AND MY BOYS ARE IN ADVANCE PLACEMENT CLASSES..... Sad. So Sad. Reform begins with this. And getting those special interest and the Federal Department of Education out of the State's hands. States should control this... Not local. One Chief,,, serveal 2nd chiefs and people monotoring these schools on a DAILY basis. Zero tolerance doenst men you have to be told the get down in a ball and be allowed to be kicked until you bleed or are so bruised you cant breathe because you fear consequence so you wont get suspended from school because the bully fears nothing. no reprecussions. GET HIM OUT OF THE SCHOOL.... simple as that. that is zero tolerance. No child should have to be subjected to humilation and be put in a position of cowardness so he will not be suspended from school and have to go home and face his parents who he respects. Sad... So Sad... antother system broken by crooked union officials and crooked politicans... So Sad. It is our country's future leaders that are suffering. I guess the drug companies like pfizer loves this... ritilan,,,, anti depressants for children... wow. mo money mo money mo...

  2. I read your frustration here, the thing is what you describe above is not a union issue. There are procedures in place to remove bad teachers, the union just makes sure the administration follows them. It is called due process...

  3. Hello Dude,

    Its very fine post. I read this post and got many useful information with this post. Teachers unions are obviously getting nervous about education reform. Lots of information on a lot of subjects that I find interesting. Thanks.