Posts tagged ‘teachers unions’

January 29, 2015

School choice is making ‘steady progress’

by Grace

Momentum for school choice has grown in recent years, and “courtroom victories are overwhelming teachers union obstacles”.

January 26-31 is National School Choice Week, and supporters believe there is much to celebrate.

… There are more than 50 such school choice programs — including school vouchers and tax-credit scholarship programs — in 25 states serving more than 300,000 children. Furthermore, about half of these programs were enacted in the past five years, which indicates that momentum for school choice is rapidly accelerating.

300,000 doesn’t actually seem like much, considering there are approximately 56 million K-12 student in this country.

Wealthier families have always had school choice.

School choice is shaking up the public education establishment, but it would be wrong to say that it’s a new, or even radical, idea. After all, if you are the child of middle- or upper-class parents, then it is almost certain that you benefited from school choice. Perhaps your parents chose where to buy a home based on the quality of the local public school. Or perhaps they paid to send you to a private school. In any event, the reason you got a quality education is because your parents were able to afford choices that put you in a school, public or private, that they determined best suited your needs. Your educational fate was not determined solely by the ZIP code into which you were born.

The present battle is being fought mainly for lower-income families, against teachers’ unions and their allies.

… In recent years, they have challenged school-choice programs in Arizona, Indiana and New Hampshire — where they’ve suffered decisive losses — and Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Florida and North Carolina — where their lawsuits are ongoing, but have suffered big setbacks. (They prevailed in Louisiana, but the state legislature quickly undid their victory.) When more states pass school-choice programs, the unions will no doubt file more lawsuits.

Bert Gall, an Institute for Justice attorney who is at the heart of the battle, is optimistic.

… the unions’ legal onslaught is not a sign of strength, but of desperation. Their lawsuits are often a collection of weak legal claims that are thrown against the wall in the hope that one will stick. While the unions may win the occasional skirmish, they will ultimately lose the legal battle — with the result that school-choice programs will expand to serve more and more families.

Success Academy Bronx 2 scholars perform the School Choice Week Dance.


In addition to dancing skills, these student have consistently demonstrated high academic achievement levels.


ADDED:  Charter schools serve 4% of school-age children in the U.S.



Bert Gall, “The steady progress of school choice”, Washington Times, January 25, 2015.

August 9, 2013

A look at the growth of American teachers’ unions since 1857

by Grace

Teachers’ unions over the years, from the Hechinger Report:

…  A look at the history of unions and strikes shows how unions gained power, and their varying levels of success in past collective bargaining attempts across the country.

1857: The National Education Association (NEA) is founded in Philadelphia by 43 educators. The new union focused on raising teacher salaries, child labor laws, educating emancipated slaves and how the forced assimilation of Native Americansaffected their education.

1897: The Chicago Teachers Federation is formed to raise teacher salaries and pensions. At this point, teacher compensation mainly consisted of room and board in the local community.

1902: Teachers, parents and students unite in Chicago for the first teachers’ strike, which occurs after a teacher is suspended for refusing to allow a disruptive child back into her classroom. According to journalist Dana Goldstein, the strike helps the newly formed CTF.

1906: In New York, the Interborough Association of Women Teachers fights for equal pay for equal work. During this time, teacher salary is based on position. Secondary-school teachers are paid more than elementary-grade teachers, and non-minority men are paid more than women.

1916: The American Federation of Teachers is created in Chicago as several local unions band together. The AFT focuses on salaries and discrimination against female teachers, including contracts requiring that they wear skirts of certain lengths, teach Sunday school, and not receive “gentleman callers more than three times a week,” according to American Teacher magazine.

1920s -1940s: Strikes are rare, since striking workers were often fired quickly and laws in some states make government worker strikes illegal. Unions focus on improving pay, improving conditions in school, and increasing federal aid to schools.

1950s: The NEA affiliates with 18 black teacher’s associations in states where segregation is rampant. By 1951, 98 percent of urban school districts are paying teachers based on professional qualifications rather than on the grade they teach.

1959: Wisconsin becomes the first state to pass a collective bargaining law for public employees. Union membership increases across the country as more states pass similar laws.

1962: The New York City teachers’ strike lasts one day, but shuts down more than 25 of the city’s public schools. Time labels it the “biggest strike by public servants in U.S. history.”

1968: Florida statewide teachers’ strike–More than 40 percent of Florida’s teachers strike over salaries and funding for classrooms. This is the first statewide strike in the nation.

New York City teachers’ strike–Three separate walkouts close schools for 36 days. The strike occurs after the newly created school board in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn, dismisses mostly white and Jewish teachers from the majority black district… The strike ends after the state steps in, and the teachers are reinstated.

1970s and 1980s: Striking breaks out across the country. Although it is illegal in Minnesota at the time, a 1970 strike by Minneapolis teachers over low salaries prompts the state to enact the Minnesota Public Employees Labor Relations Act, which protects teachers’ ability to strike. Strikes also take place in Philadelphia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Chicago, over pay, medical benefits and contract demands…

1990s- 2000s: Laws restricting collective bargaining rights and the differences in contracts and salaries between districts have greatly diversified the role of unions in each state. Unions have taken stronger positions in political campaigns to support like-minded candidates. They have also been vocal about changes to teacher evaluations, an increased number of charter schools, and the introduction of merit pay, and still have the power to impact education reform rollouts in some of America’s largest cities, as was demonstrated in Chicago.

Our local teachers were part of the wave of strikes during the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1976 …The Eastchester Teachers Association went on strike. The strike leaders went to jail; striking teachers were fined two days pay for every one spent “out,” and Eastchester itself made the history books as having provoked the second longest teachers’ strike in New York history.

Related:  Teachers unions overwhelmingly contribute to Democrats (Cost of College)

November 21, 2012

Quick links – SUNY tuition increases, GWU gets unranked, teachers’ union makes concessions

by Grace

——  ‘SUNY to ask state for $1.97 billion, a 13% increase’ (

  • Governor Cuomo asked New York State agencies to “estimate zero growth in their budget proposals”.
  • SUNY is asking for a 13% budget increase from the state.
  • In-state undergraduate tuition will increase by about 5%

SUNY’s proposed budget asks for increases of $134 million for university hospitals, $53 million for the system’s four-year colleges and administration, and $37.3 million for community colleges.

According to the board resolution, the system needs increased funding so it can “meet the ongoing costs of current operations, preserve gains in academic quality, achieve excellence and serve the State of New York to the greatest degree possible.”


“Generally speaking, people ask for a little more than they think they are going to get,” said Assembly Higher Education Committee chairwoman Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan. “That doesn’t mean that they are not asking for exactly what they need. You don’t always get what you need.”

——  ‘U.S. News Strips George Washington of its Ranking Due to Cheating’ (TaxProf Blog)

From #51 to unranked

George Washington University is now unranked by U.S. News and World Report, following a disclosure earlier this month that it had misreported statistics about the academic achievement of its incoming freshmen.

On the basis of the incorrect data, GWU was No. 51 in the publication’s latest vaunted list of best colleges in the nation, which was published in September. That ranking was higher than the university deserved, U.S. News chief ranker Bob Morse wrote on his blog on Wednesday.

Students are understandably unhappy.

”Students are very, very worried about this,” said Scheckter, 21. ”They are worried about graduating, applying to graduate school having a degree from a university that is now ranked the same as the University of Phoenix, which, no offense to them, is not the same institution. A lot of people pay a hell of a lot of money to come here, thinking they will get a degree from a top 50 university.”

Ranking is based on many factors that can be manipulated and may have no bearing on the quality of a school, but most of us still pay attention to the lists.  I think rankings offer a short-hand way of looking at college quality, albeit in a general and sometimes superficial way.  And some of the data compiled as part of the ranking is useful information in evaluating colleges.

——  Baby steps – teachers’ union in Westchester County agrees to wage freeze and increased health premium contribution

After 16 months of negotiations, the Mamaroneck school board and the teachers’ union have reached an agreement that reduces salary increases for teachers — including a two-year wage freeze — while raising their health premium contributions and eliminating a contractual retirement-recognition payment.

The new agreement, which covers five academic years from 2011-16, contains a freeze on wages from 2012-14, as well as increased instructional time for students.

Under its terms, base pay increases will be held at 2 percent for years 2014 through 2016. The contribution to health-insurance payments will go from 7 percent to 8 percent in the 2015-16 year.

In the private sector, the average percent of health premium paid by employees is 16% for individual coverage and 27% for family coverage. 

A contractual retirement-recognition payment, amounting to 25 percent of each retiring teacher’s salary, has been eliminated beginning in 2013-14 for all new hires. It cost the district more than $1.5 million in the last three years, Pierson said.

The new contract also calls for an increase in student instructional time, with Hommocks Middle School getting up to 20 minutes more per day and the high school up to 15 minutes more per day. At the elementary level, time with students will be increased by 30 minutes per week.

Schools, union reach agreement (

July 27, 2011

Teachers unions overwhelmingly contribute to Democrats

by Grace

I suppose this is not a surprise to most people.

The nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA), was the heaviest contributor to U.S. political campaigns in 2007-08, according to the Center for Responsive Politics….

The teachers unions give mostly to Democrats and in national elections nearly exclusively so. Their legislative agenda for education continues to focus on increasing spending, loosening accountability for results, avoiding the use of test scores in teacher evaluations and thwarting parental choice that could derail the public education monopoly….

So teachers unions are spending millions in dues revenues on legal fees suing to block charter schools and other parental-choice reforms. Charter schools have emerged as primary targets for the wrath of teacher-union leadership largely because charter teachers rarely belong to unions.

SOIFER: The coming teacher-union offensive – Washington Times

Graph from opensecrets

Found at Instapundit

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