Don't be fooled, says Hoover Institution senior fellow Terry Moe, by recent headlines; despite popular belief, unions are not in decline. While private sector unions, which have seen their memberships plummet from 35 percent of the private work force in the 1950s to a mere 8 percent today, may be experiencing problems, public sector unions are thriving. "School teachers, for example," Moe writes, "are 80 percent unionized." And, of course, these public sector unions don't always have the public's best interests at heart; in a recent Education Week piece, our own Michael J. Petrilli recounts how the National Education Association successfully drained NCLB's "highly qualified teachers" provision of its usefulness and transformed it from a promising possibility into divisive issue. Reformers can hope for public sectors to implode like their private sector counterparts, but it appears they'll be waiting a long time.
"Packing a Punch," by Terry M. Moe, Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2005 (Subscription required)
"Improving Teacher Quality: Better Luck Next Time," by Michael J. Petrilli, Education Week, August 31, 2005