Over the last year, teacher unions have been on the defensive. Folks from all points along the philosophical spectrum are saying that teacher unions and the policies they back are a big reason for our nation’s high dropout rate and lack of academic progress.
Typically, teacher unions fight for job protections and higher pay and benefits for their members. But does preventing ineffective teachers from being fired or paying every teacher with the same number of years under their belt the same salary regardless of performance help or hurt kids? The court of public opinion is moving away from teacher tenure and rigid teacher salary schedules and towards empowering principals to make personnel decisions and pay top teachers more money with performance pay.
Watch this fun debate between education reformers and top teacher union officials. Intelligence Squared recently hosted this live debate in New York City and had audience members vote before and after the debate on the motion, “Do Not Blame the Teachers Unions for Our Failing Schools.” If you don’t think teacher unions are to blame, then you voted for the motion. If you think teacher unions are to blame, then you voted against the motion. Interestingly, many of those who began the debate as “undecideds” voted at the conclusion that teacher unions were worthy of blame.
What do you think? Are teacher unions to blame?
– Brooke Terry