Terry Moe on Teacher Union Power

By Education Next 12/20/2011

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In this video, Terry Moe discusses his recent book on teacher union power, Special Interest: Teachers Unions and America’s Public Schools, with Eric Hanushek. Moe’s analysis pinpoints the self-interest of unions that leads them to block many education reform ideas. He concludes that “reform unionism” is unlikely to lead to any major policy changes and that improving schools requires curbing the power of unions.

Terry Moe was interviewed by Mike Petrilli for the Education Next book club podcast here.

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  • Mandy Nygren says:

    I’ll be interested to read this book, for many reasons. However, I am confused a bit by some of the information that I’ve heard/read already. I wonder if Mr. Moe has read any of the recent work by Stephen Krashen, specifically to how poverty affects academic achievement? In comparing us to nations around the world he’d find that those developed countries scoring higher than the US have certain characteristics. First of all, their poverty levels are much lower than the US. Next, there are cultural differences too, differences that we cannot change unless we have a major cultural shift. Also, when you compare schools with similar poverty levels (or lack there of) to those “successful in education” nations you find that we are not failing. We are, however failing those that need us most, impoverished families.
    Furthermore, I find it interesting that an educated person would be making such major generalizations. Sure, I suspect that some teachers unions have committed the crimes for which they are accused. However, many have not. To a certain degree, there does need to be reform. School districts must follow along on that journey, because it is ultimately their responsibility to “counsel” poor teachers out of the profession. On the other hand I must say that I wish unions were as powerful as he asserts. If they were, education would be fully funded and then some, teachers would be paid at highly competitive rates in an effort to attract and retain the best of our profession, and the general public would treat educators with the same respect they receive in those “more successful” nations.

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