Importance of Teacher Unions to Develop Education

1693 words (7 pages) Essay in Social Policy

18/05/20 Social Policy Reference this

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The Big brother of Education

Today’s public education system is in great need of repair. Students in the US are slowly falling behind everyone else around the world. Which begs the question, if the US is one of the most (If not the most) successful countries in the world, then why are it’s students’ scores not on the same level as everyone else? According to Terry Moe, a professor of political science at Stanford University, “…the heart of it lies the power of the teachers’ unions — the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and their state and local affiliates.” Modern teacher unions, the power-driven, rich corporations meant to look after the teachers, are ruining the modern education system by disregarding the welfare of students, empowering bad teachers, and putting education last.

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Modern teacher unions disregard the welfare of the students by advocating against school choice. Its there job in fact. Protect the employees while hurting the employer. In this case, the person on the receiving end of the work is the student. Students are just forgotten in the background. The teacher unions, such as the National Education Association and the American Federation of teachers, only care about one thing: the teachers’ interests. Everything else follows. This includes the less important interests of the students such as a good, quality education. For the children, this may mean moving to a school of their choice. Teachers Unions take this idea out of the conversation in two different ways: collective bargaining and political leveraging.

Collective bargaining is the school and the teacher unions compromising on rules that benefit the teachers. This bargaining slowly takes away the freedom of the schools by adding more rules. According to Terry Moe, the second way they get the policies they want is by using political leverage. They use their political supporters, often compensated with campaign money, to enact policies to best help the employee.

The best way for a student to get in a position where they acquire the power to make decisions based on the betterment of their education is by having school choice, an idea that every teacher union disagrees with. So what is school choice? It is the idea that every kid should receive funding from the government to choose the school they would like to go to, whether it is private, charter, home school, or public school. This incites competition into the school system. “In almost every state and city where there is competition today, educational outcomes improve – often dramatically,” says  Rebecca Friedrichs, a California public school teacher Prager U video host. Today, the government decides which kind and what school you will go to This is sometimes seen as problematic to kids as collective bargaining and political leverage create an inflexible learning environment by establishing an excess amount of rules in the workplace. So how is school choice any better than what is in place today? “According to researchers at the University of Arkansas – in the most comprehensive study done to date — students in school choice programs saw their reading and math scores improve by 27 percent and 15 percent, respectively.” (Friedrichs,7).

School Choice is an obvious pick for the success of the student and the school system. School choice means more flexibility and fewer rules. This, however, does not appeal to the teacher unions as school choice means fewer public school employees which in turn means less money. Teacher unions don’t care about the individual welfare of the students as they cannot live off a successful school system built off of competition.

Secondly, unions empower bad teachers by enforcing inconsistent rules and regulations such as teacher tenure and eliminating accountability in the workplace. The teacher unions make it very hard to fire an employee. According to Michael Watson, the Research Director for Capital Research Center, “1/ 1000 teachers are fired for a performance-related offense.” This is a crazy number when you compare it to doctors and lawyers, who have a higher education yet a significantly higher chance of being fired for misconduct in the workplace.

One of the biggest opponents to the firing of teachers is tenure. Tenure makes it exponentially harder to fire a teacher after they have worked for a number of years. “Very rarely will teachers with tenure be dismissed over poor performance in the classroom,” says Catrin Wigfall, the author of seven articles on the Center of the American Spirit. “Plus, the process to fire an ineffective tenured teacher remains difficult and complicated.” (Wigfall, 6). In a study provided by Fordham University, it is shown, on a scale of one to ten, how easy or hard it is to dismiss an ineffective veteran teacher. One of the worst educational systems Chicago public schools, got a one and The harder it is to take an old bad teacher out of the classroom, the harder it is to have a better educational system.

Another part of the problem is that many rules and regulations are in place with teacher unions to make sure that it is never the teacher’s fault. The lack of accountability in the school system is a direct cause of teacher unions. Sometimes after misconduct, the school system has such a hard time trying to fire them. In New York, the school administrators had such a hard time firing these teachers that they created rubber rooms (Walson,1). These rooms housed teachers who couldn’t be fired but had some type of misconduct in the classroom. They would spend all day in the room doing nothing and they would get paid for it. Not only did the school system spend millions on these rubber rooms yearly, the money paying these teachers came from taxpayers.

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Finally, Teacher unions always put education last and themselves first. This might sound crazy as it is a teachers union for crying out loud. A teachers union is selfish and at the end of the day does not care about the basis of education, the relationship between the student and the teacher.

Think about it this way. Teachers work for the government. A part of their money is already deducted from their paycheck for taxes. Since they work for the goverment they will have to join the union. The union dues, or the money they pay to be in the union, is also deducted out of their pay by the government. The government sends that money straight to the teacher’s union.“What do the unions do with all that money? They lobby the government for more money – more money for public education. That might sound good, but it’s really just a smokescreen.” says Rebecca Friedrichs. At this point, the teachers union takes its’ money and spends it on lobbying for political candidates that support their best interest. Political opponents to teacher unions are unable to compete with the crazy amount of money given to the proponents of the system. From this point on, the school unions get bigger and bigger, having more money and even more political influence.

Now, where does all of this money come from? What fuels this Big Brother of education? The answer is the people. All citizens are required to pay taxes. A small amount is taken out to pay for the teachers’ salaries. A part of that money goes to the Teacher unions and that money lobbies for political allies, therefore, empowering the system.

According to The Department of Education, the total budget of elementary and secondary schools across the nation has almost doubled since 2000 (Education Department Budget, 5). It would make sense if the attendance was changing at the same rate. Fortunately, this is not the case. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, since 1970 attendance in public schools has only increased at a rate of five percent (Friedrichs, 9). On the other hand, public school employment has increased by over 95 percent in the same timeframe (Friedrichs, 9). Who would this highly increased school employment benefit the most: the schools or the Unions? The answer is easily the unions. One example of this is in California. The state of California spends about 55 billion dollars each year on education alone (Friedrichs, 10). Yet, it ranks 45th in the nation when it comes to reading and math (Friedrichs, 10). Obviously, more employees do not equal a better education for the children.

What does this all mean? Well, it proves a point. The point that teachers unions by design are not meant to benefit the schools or education itself. The basis of the union is to make itself richer, more powerful, and increase its self-sustainability so it can exist for a very long time. Overall, the teacher unions put education last and themselves first.

In conclusion, unless new policies can be enacted to take the power of the teacher unions and redistribute it into the hands of the people, it will result in the failure of the education system. The future generations of children should be able to decide what kind of school they want to go to and which school to go to. The power needs to be in the parents rather than the government. Modern teacher unions, the power-driven, rich corporations meant to look after the teachers, are ruining the modern education system by disregarding the welfare of students, empowering bad teachers, and putting education last.

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