• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Education Unions Losing Ground

    Teachers unions have a popularity problem,” according to a recent Harvard study.

    Harvard professor Paul Peterson writes that while approval ratings for education unions remained stable between 2009 and 2011, 2012 saw a significant dip:

    In our polls from 2009 to 2011, we saw little change in public opinion. Around 40% of respondents were neutral, saying that unions had neither a positive nor negative impact. The remainder divided almost evenly, with the negative share being barely greater than the positive.

    But this year unions lost ground. While 41% of the public still takes the neutral position, those with a positive view of unions dropped to 22% in 2012 from 29% in 2011.

    The most notable finding, however, is the opinion of education unions among teachers themselves. Peterson reports that while “58% of teachers took a positive view of unions in 2011, only 43% do in 2012.” On top of this, “the number of teachers holding negative views of unions nearly doubled to 32% from 17% last year.”

    Governor Scott Walker’s victory in Wisconsin last week also suggests unions may be losing ground.

    The Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk points out that while union leaders in Wisconsin portrayed Walker’s union reforms—including letting “union members vote on re-electing their unions,” making joining a union and paying dues voluntary, and ending collective bargaining over benefits—as “an attack on union members,” many members apparently disagreed.

    Despite months of union lobbying to oust the governor, Walker’s win on Tuesday was supported by 38 percent of union households (slightly greater than the 37 percent who supported him in 2010). Sherk writes:

    Why did Walker win the same share of the union vote after implementing his reforms? Because they didn’t consider these reforms to be an anti-union attack. Making unions run for re-election and making union dues voluntary cause unions to be more accountable to their members. No wonder union members overwhelmingly support these ideas. Of course, government employees were not thrilled about paying more for their pension and health care bills, but they did not dislike everything Walker had done.

    By pushing back on union power, Walker’s reforms also support the best interests of children. For years, unions have stood in the way of much-needed reforms such as ending job security for underperforming teachers, school choice, and performance pay for teachers. Additionally, there are examples of unions putting their own interests over those of children, such as the recent actions by the Chicago teachers union to call for a possible strike for teachers this fall if schools don’t agree to the demands of the unions—namely, a 30 percent pay increase over the next two years.

    Education in the United States should not be controlled by special interests but rather focused on the needs of students and families. That “unions in Wisconsin and elsewhere are standing on increasingly shaky ground,” as Peterson states, means students are gaining stronger footing for a brighter academic future.

    Posted in Education, Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Education Unions Losing Ground

    1. Bobbie says:

      what an oxy moron "education unions."

      kids need proper education not "union" distorted education. Exploiting children to corrupt "it's for the kids" while the kids fall less and less intelligent. Teachers make a positive difference when their talents aren't restricted by government union rules.

    2. Bryce says:

      There are many reasons for people to sour on teachers' unions, but a big one for me is that teachers now expect to retire in their early 50's (btw I live in Wisconsin) . Meanwhile there are headlines that the rest of us won't be able to retire until we are 80. That's quite a discrepancy. What makes it worse is that I see teaching as a calling, not just a job. In other such careers, people want to keep working and making a difference as long as they can. Apparently there are many teachers that want to punch out at 53 and have their neighbors pay them to sit on their bums and watch Oprah until they are 90.

    3. cemal adli says:

      It was almost 70yrs. ago I was at the edge of the cliff.A teacher saved my life by telling me wh. at a good person I was.And I turned around and made myself a good Doctor.Nothing and anywhere in the world one can find anybody better than a Good Teacher.

    4. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      The education unions are losing ground because when given a choice, teachers are heading for the lifeboats and
      the education unions are rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    5. OldNavyChief says:

      We can only hope that this is happening.

    6. randydutton says:

      Professorial dishonesty is alive and well. Too bad the unions and college administrations protect employees who lie. There's a case I documented at http://graysharborgop.blogspot.com/2012/05/academ… where a tenured history professor, Gary Murrell at Grays Harbor College was caught on record lying to a student (my son), and the professor using his wrong version of history as an excuse to flunk him. Imagine our disgust when the Academic Review Board ignored the complaints and said the professor followed his grading guidelines. This similarly is what is wrong with academic unions — they staunchly defend the indefensible.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.