Education Obituary

Education Scholar Was Union Critic

By Stephen Sawchuk — February 26, 2013 1 min read
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Myron Lieberman, an education professor, author, and prominent critic of teachers’ unions, died of natural causes Feb. 6 in Chevy Chase, Md., his son said in a statement. He was 94.

During a 60-year career that included positions at more than half a dozen colleges and universities, Mr. Lieberman emerged as a serious critic of the national teachers’ unions and of common collective bargaining tactics, culminating in his 1997 volume The Teachers’ Unions: How the NEA and AFT Sabotage Reform. His insights were based in part on personal knowledge of the two unions, to which he had belonged and represented in contract negotiations early in his career. Mr. Lieberman also made a onetime run for the presidency of the American Federation of Teachers in 1972.

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But Mr. Lieberman also charged would-be education reformers with failing to confront resistance to change from other education players, such as governors and state education departments. He reserved particular ire for the nation’s more than 14,000 local schools boards, writing in a 2007 Education Week Commentary essay that such board members’ private interests and lack of expertise in labor relations gave unions an advantage in collective bargaining.

In addition to serving on the faculty or as an administrator at the University of Oklahoma, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Southern California, and the City College of New York, among others, Mr. Lieberman acted as a chief negotiator during many school districts’ contract renewals.

A version of this article appeared in the February 27, 2013 edition of Education Week as Education Scholar Was Union Critic

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