“New Role for Teacher’s Union”

Andrew Rotherham:

As Jane Hannaway and I noted in Collective Bargaining In Education, this increased attention to teachers unions is a consequence of the evolution of education policymaking. Today a rough consensus around standards, accountability, and public school choice options governs education policymaking, and policymakers are now turning their attention to more complicated subsurface education-reform issues such as teacher quality and intra-district school finance. And while the teachers unions surely are not to blame for all of our educational problems, they are the most powerful players in public education policymaking at the state and local level. So it is not surprising that they are the focus of greater attention from analysts across the ideological spectrum.
The teachers unions frequently respond, “Well, what would you have us do differently if you don’t just want us to go away?” It is a fair question. Critics ought to discuss the roles they see for teachers unions in an increasingly pluralistic public education system, where traditional school districts are just one provider of public education. Here are three ideas for new roles for teachers unions in such a system that offer ways they can add real value for students while moving away from today’s adversarial and increasingly outdated model of bargaining.

Rotherham’s article includes a link to an interview with Denver’s Brad Jupp, a union leader who lead the effort to make some substantive changes in that community.