Logo
Friday, November 11, 2011
Beckner: Professional Educators Defy Unions, Embrace Reforms
By Gary Beckner

Education and labor reforms have been the subject of much of this year’s domestic headlines. Teacher protests, picket lines and fiery rhetoric between teacher unions and reformers have been playing out in Wisconsin, Ohio and beyond.

While the war of words continues to rage on, individual teacher voices are often lost as the union interests of self-preservation and forced dues trump the needs and changing views of our most noble profession.

After this year’s eventful legislative sessions, a survey released in mid-August indicates that Americans overwhelmingly support teachers but not teacher unions.

Among the survey results, a solid majority (71 percent) of respondents said they have trust and confidence in America’s teachers. However, when asked about the teacher unions, 47 percent say they believe the unions have hurt education, compared with only 26 percent believing the unions have helped education.

While the findings are nothing new to the growing number of teachers disenchanted with their unions, it appears that the public has begun to draw a clear distinction between teachers, as individual professionals, and the actions of the teacher unions.

This distinction is further sharpened by a survey released last week by the Association of American Educators, the largest national nonunion professional educator organization.

The AAE randomly polled its members from all 50 states to better understand the changing sentiments of teachers relating to education and labor reform. The findings show that more and more teachers are embracing reforms — contrary to union-held stances relating to alternative certification programs such as Teach for America, school choice, virtual education and collective bargaining.

For instance, despite desperate union-led attempts to preserve its monopoly on teacher preparation programs and teacher certification, AAE members recognize that in order to attract our nation’s best and brightest to the teaching profession, we must consider policies that allow degreed professionals an easier path to the classroom.

As an example, while union officials have nationally denounced programs such as Teach for America for “union busting,” 85 percent of AAE members support Teach for America and its mission to place recent top-tier college graduates into high-need classrooms after an intense training program.

With regard to school choice, 61 percent of those surveyed agree with an Arizona law providing tax credit scholarships to special education students in traditional public schools, allowing them to attend the public or private school of their choice. While the union-backed establishment sees school choice as detrimental to the teaching profession, AAE member teachers support varied policies that empower parents to choose the learning environment best-suited for their child.

While defenders of the status quo see virtual education options as a threat, professional teachers are embracing new technologies as the wave of the future. An overwhelming 75 percent of AAE members support a Utah law guaranteeing high school students access to any course via a state online database, allowing students to customize their learning experience.

In the wake of 48 states considering labor reform legislation in 2011, the value and cost of collective bargaining and a one-size-fits-all system has been heavily debated. Seventy-eight percent of survey respondents assert that collective bargaining has little to no effect on their ability to teach effectively, and just 28 percent believe collective bargaining equates to a better-compensated workforce.

A majority of member teachers (63 percent) would prefer to negotiate their own contracts to account for their unique circumstances, further calling into question the union’s one-size-fits-all system. A nearly unanimous 98 percent of AAE members believe that teachers should be free to choose whom they wish to associate with, further advancing AAE’s position that no educator should be required to pay union dues as a condition of employment, despite laws to the contrary in 21 states. Moreover, 84 percent of those teachers surveyed believe that teacher unions are hurting the teaching profession.

This powerful data demonstrates that teacher unions are out of touch with the opinions of many classroom teachers. It is this disconnect that has caused thousands of teachers to leave the unions for nonunion, professional associations that offer many of the benefits they need without the union baggage.

In considering new common-sense reforms as we move forward, policymakers and other stakeholders need to know that hundreds of thousands of classroom teachers are indeed agreeable to policies that put students ahead of labor union interests.

Gary Beckner is executive director of the Association of American Educators.
Posted at 10:36 AM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)



Login Login
Email Address* :
Password* :

New Registration Forgot Password?
Categories Categories
Al Fonzi
Andy Caldwell
Ashly Donavan
Bill Glynn
Dan Logue
Darin Selnick
Dr. George Watson
Dr. Jane Orient, M.D.
Dr. Mike Tabor
Dr. Wendy James
Gary Beckner
Gordon Mullin
Gretchen Hamel
Harris Sherline
Janet Cronick
Jerry Scheidbach
Joe Armendariz
Judson Phillips
Lowell Ponte
Matt Barber
Matt Kokkonen
Mike Brown
Mike Gorbell
Mike Stoker
Phil Kiver
Richard Cochrane
Richard Fryer
Richard S. Quandt
Robert Jeffers
Robyn Hayhurst
Roger Hedgecock
Rooster Bradford
Santa Barbara City Watch
Stephen Wallace, M.S. Ed.
RSS Feed RSS Feed
Top 10 Recent BlogRSS Feed
Al FonziRSS Feed
Andy CaldwellRSS Feed
Ashly DonavanRSS Feed
Bill GlynnRSS Feed
Dan LogueRSS Feed
Darin SelnickRSS Feed
Dr. George WatsonRSS Feed
Dr. Jane Orient, M.D.RSS Feed
Dr. Mike TaborRSS Feed
Dr. Wendy JamesRSS Feed
Gary BecknerRSS Feed
Gordon MullinRSS Feed
Gretchen HamelRSS Feed
Harris SherlineRSS Feed
Janet CronickRSS Feed
Jerry Scheidbach RSS Feed
Joe ArmendarizRSS Feed
Judson PhillipsRSS Feed
Lowell PonteRSS Feed
Matt BarberRSS Feed
Matt KokkonenRSS Feed
Mike BrownRSS Feed
Mike GorbellRSS Feed
Mike StokerRSS Feed
Phil KiverRSS Feed
Richard CochraneRSS Feed
Richard FryerRSS Feed
Richard S. QuandtRSS Feed
Robert JeffersRSS Feed
Robyn HayhurstRSS Feed
Roger HedgecockRSS Feed
Rooster BradfordRSS Feed
Santa Barbara City WatchRSS Feed
Stephen Wallace, M.S. Ed.RSS Feed
Archives Archives
Skip Navigation Links.
Tag Cloud Tag Cloud                      
Validator Validator
XHTML | CSS