Teachers' Unions Protect Ineffective Teachers

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

To the Editor:

"Do you think unions protect bad teachers?"

That was Anderson Cooper's question for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at her party's recent primary debate in Flint, Mich. ("Hillary Clinton: Teachers Are Often 'Scapegoats' for Low-Performing Schools"). Clinton's answer was clear: "I have told my friends at the top of both [teachers'] unions, we've got to take a look at this because it is one of the most common criticisms. We need to eliminate the criticism."

That might take a while. One estimate based on federal data suggests only one out of every 500 tenured teachers is fired for poor performance.

America's national teachers' unions—the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers—are notorious for protecting underwhelming teachers through generous tenure policies and last-in, first-out firing procedures.

Their staunch support for the status quo spills over into politics. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NEA and the AFT's super-PACs have spent nearly $228 million on political activities and lobbying since 1990, without taking into account millions more in non-PAC expenditures. And almost all of the money has been spent on the Democratic Party and special-interest groups.

Meanwhile, according to the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, our country ranks 35th in the world when it comes to mathematics—behind Russia and Vietnam. Reading scores are even more troubling: Only 36 percent of America's 8th graders read at or above grade level.

The time for change is now. And teachers' unions are getting in the way.

Richard Berman
Center for Union Facts
Washington, D.C.

Vol. 35, Issue 29, Page 24

Published in Print: April 27, 2016, as Teachers' Unions Protect Ineffective Teachers
Related Stories
Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories