New NCTQ Report Rightly Calls for More Research on Teacher Union Impacts

Okay, I think it’s a long and boring paper, but Ben in the Education Policy Center says the new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality is very important.

What it boils down to is there are a lot of rules, mostly written by well-meaning people, that end up negatively affecting how well kids learn in the classroom. The NCTQ report Invisible Ink in Collective Bargaining proves the realization that more damage is often done by lawmakers at the state level than by the private union negotiations at the local level.

The report’s authors say there are three major reasons this “preeminence of state authority” is so poorly misunderstood:

  • The old media doesn’t much either understand or pay attention to the issues that govern education–namely, “few have focused on the outsized influence of the teachers union in the statehouse.”
  • Neither school district or union officials have a vested interest in bringing public attention to their private bargaining sessions. Short of threats to strike, the media doesn’t get how the issues that are negotiated locally have an impact on education’s bottom line.
  • Few scholars have researched the impact of collective bargaining on — or “the origin and history of state involvement in” — public education. Into this vacuum, pro-union and anti-union ideologies devolve into shouting matches.

Terry MoeOne good example of research that others could emulate can be found in Dr. Terry Moe‘s Collective Bargaining and the Performance of Public Schools. Interestingly, my friends in the Education Policy Center also are among the few that have paid attention to these issues. The Independence Institute has focused on these broader concerns through local Colorado examples, with such reports as Take Public Funds off the Negotiating Table and Nullifying the Probationary Period.

Because more research is badly needed, the general proposal of the NCTQ report is a great idea:

Better data and more transparency can dismantle myths and assumptions about collective bargaining and the role of unions, calling to task ideologically based positions. It is the surest path to achieving more informed negotiations and responsible results out of statehouses and decisions that are geared toward the best interests of school children.

Hey, that includes me! Okay, I guess I like this report, too.