The End of Teachers Unions

Terry Moe:

In the next two decades, their political power will wane, and America will finally achieve meaningful K-12 reform.
Editor’s note: In this essay, the author blends prediction with prescription to paint a vivid picture of what American education will look like in 2030. The essay is from an online publication of the Hoover Institution’s Koret Task Force on K-12 Education, American Education in 2030.
In 2012 the American education system was doing what it did best. It was surviving. For decades, it had been subjected to blistering–and well-justified–criticism for its relentlessly poor performance. But thanks to powerful defenders in politics, it had weathered the storm like a rock, virtually immune to the efforts of reformers to bring about major change.
The school system of that era really had two problems. It had a performance problem. That much was obvious. But it also had a political problem–which, in the grander scheme of things, was more fundamental than the performance problem itself because it prevented the performance problem from being addressed and resolved. Reformers had been butting their heads against a wall of power, winning a few battles along the way but consistently losing the war. The system was a disappointment. It was failing the nation. But it was strong and resilient where it counted–in power politics–and it doggedly prevailed.