Hopeless optimists in the
ed-reform ranks have noted—and exhalted—recent cracks in teacher-union armor,
some of which seem to be brought about by teachers themselves. The latest
United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) elections saw a reform-minded slate of
teachers (self-dubbed NewTLA) take ninety of the 350 seats in the union’s
governing body. New York City’s Educators for Excellence, a group of teachers
working to reform arcane and detrimental policies like last-in, first-out, now boasts
3,500 members. While it’s easy to become smitten with these examples of change,
however, Terry Moe reminds
us that they won’t bring about large-scale “reform unionism.” Why? Because
unions are inherently designed to quell reform efforts. Further, while younger
teachers are more reform-minded than their elder peers (look to NCEI’s
recent survey for more), they also exit the profession at higher rates—leaving
union leadership unscathed. While any chinks in the armor are likely good for
kids and taxpayers alike, imagine the damage to the status quo these
reform-minded teachers could inflict if they started working against the steadfast
unions and not through them.
|Click to listen to commentary on "reform unionism" from the Education Gadfly Show podcast
Riot: Insurgents Take on Teachers’ Unions,” by Andrew J. Rotherham, Time, Aug ust 11, 2011.
Young People Reform Teachers Unions? Dream On.,” by Terry Moe, PublicSector,
Inc., August 12, 2011.