Teacher unions that have lost collective bargaining will flex political muscle with money

Jun 13, 2011

While several states have recently limited the ability for teacher unions to collectively bargain for their members, teachers will continue to flex their political muscle in a way scholars of policymaking have overlooked: through their pocketbooks, says a Baylor University political scientist.

Traditionally, the influence of teacher unions has been measured by the size of their membership or how active unions are in collective bargaining, said Patrick Flavin, Ph.D., assistant professor of at Baylor. But in a recent study, he found that teachers' unions — even in many Southern right-to-work states with weak or non-existent collective bargaining laws — have increased their political power by ratcheting up campaign contributions to candidates for state office.

"You don't often think of as having a lot of money to throw around to campaigns. But when you have a lot of people each giving a little, it adds up," Flavin said. "Combine that with the fact that teachers vote at much higher rates than the general public, and you have a potent political force.

"It will be very interesting to see how state legislators who opposed collective bargaining rights for teachers fare when the next round of statewide elections roll around. It's likely that teacher unions will actively seek incumbents' defeat by mobilizing teachers to get to the polls to support opposing candidates and by contributing to their campaigns."

His study, which has been presented to the National Council on Teacher Quality in Washington, D.C., will be published in the fall issue of State Politics & Policy Quarterly. It is titled "From the Schoolhouse to the Statehouse: Teacher Union Political Activism and U.S. State Education Reform Policy."

On June 1, Tennessee added its name to the list of state governments that have recently sought to limit the power of organized labor in public schools. Others states that have taken action in recent months are Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, Idaho and Michigan.

While teacher activism has been well chronicled, only a handful of scholars have actually examined the effect organized teacher interests have on education policymaking in the states, Flavin said. He found that the usual measures of political influence were not significant in predicting state education reform policy, mainly because collective bargaining and political activism are different.

"Just because the collective bargaining powers of teacher unions has been curbed doesn't mean they don't have power to influence teacher pay and evaluation policies as well as policies regarding charter schools and voucher programs for private schools," he said.

One example is Alabama, where state law does not explicitly require that school districts empower teachers with rights, Flavin said.

"Although this may lead some to conclude that Alabama teachers are politically weak, it would be a serious mistake to assume that the state's largest teachers' union — the Alabama Education Association — plays an insignificant role in state politics," he said. "The AEA is considered one of the state's most powerful interest groups by Alabama policymakers because it contributes a larger percentage of campaign contributions to state candidates than any other organized interest in the state."

The study uses data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics to measure teacher union giving in each state from 1998 to 2006. The top five states for teacher union political contributions as a percentage of total giving are Oregon, Indiana, Nebraska, Wyoming and Illinois. The bottom five states are Alaska, South Carolina, Maine, Mississippi and Vermont. The study finds that in states where teacher unions contribute at a greater rate to campaigns, teacher unions have been more successful in opposing greater public school choice and reforms for teacher pay and evaluation.

Besides their influence in state politics, teacher unions have a strong advantage in local education politics because the policies they seek to influence are decided largely by public officials in low-turnout, low-interest elections, Flavin said. For example, local school board elections typically report voter turnout of no more than 15 percent of eligible voters. Even in states that elect chief state school officers and a state board of education, teacher union interest groups typically expect little public awareness. Consequently, teachers make up a disproportionately large segment of voters in these elections and exert considerable influence on the direction of policy, Flavin said.

"My prediction is that in upcoming state elections, teacher unions will be very active in getting their members out to vote against legislators who have supported these recent reforms curbing the ability of teacher unions to collectively bargain," he said. "The bottom line is that teachers will remain politically powerful."

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freethinking
2 / 5 (8) Jun 13, 2011
Teachers Union, just like every other public services unions are just another arm of the Democrats. Its nice to think that taxpayers are paying teachers to put democrats in office.

The best thing for education would be to eliminate the teachers unions. Right now, the teachers union only cares about itself and putting democrats in office. They do not care one bit for the children in the school system.

If parents are told to trust the school board with their children, teachers should be forced to trust that same board.
SemiNerd
4.4 / 5 (7) Jun 13, 2011
freethinking - Most teachers regard themselves as under attack by the Republican party. Republican's regularly devalue their service and demonize them publicly. One of the principles central to Democrats is that public schools are an important institution and should be supported.

So who do you think they are going to support? Republican's make the same mistake by demonizing Hispanics over immigration issues, and African American's by vicious attacks on our President.

I am a taxpayer and I support my teachers to educate my children. I support teachers unions because its the only way that teachers have to voice their collective positions.
ryggesogn2
1.6 / 5 (8) Jun 13, 2011
Teachers deserved to be demonized given the performance of their students.
because its the only way that teachers have to voice their collective positions.

Why do teachers need a collective position? Do the math and science teachers deserve the same collective treatment as the sociology teachers?
"The Association of American Educators (AAE) is the largest national nonunion professional teachers association, advancing the profession through teacher advocacy and professional development, as well as promoting excellence in education, so that our members receive the respect, recognition and reward they deserve."
http://www.aaeteachers.org/
There are alternatives.
ryggesogn2
2 / 5 (6) Jun 13, 2011
Teachers can make a difference if they choose to. Brockton, MA needed to improve performance. The principal required all the teachers to cross teach. Science teachers corrected spelling and grammar, for example.
Not all teachers wanted the responsibility. Public schools CAN improve, IF property motivated. How does the NEA motivate?
MarkyMark
3 / 5 (2) Jun 14, 2011
Teachers Union, just like every other public services unions are just another arm of the Democrats. Its nice to think that taxpayers are paying teachers to put democrats in office.

The best thing for education would be to eliminate the teachers unions. Right now, the teachers union only cares about itself and putting democrats in office. They do not care one bit for the children in the school system.

If parents are told to trust the school board with their children, teachers should be forced to trust that same board.

Hmm a severe lack of free thinking here lol. I guess you support the idea that any groupe that tends to support democrats should be 'silenced', for the good of freedom loving Americans ( i.e. Tea party Repulicans ). Perhaps you should look to other goverments to see what happens when you restrict certain political groups in countries such as Siria and Iran.

Look foward to your 'informed' counterpoint to my point concerning the need for free speech and voting.
COCO
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 14, 2011
come to Kanada where the mantra is "no teacher left behind" - where performance measures are defined and gathered by the teachers - where after 5 years the average teacher makes over $100 K Cdn @ $105 US - albeit with a higher tax rate and snow.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.7 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2011
Teachers deserved to be demonized given the performance of their students.
Not all the time. Some teachers are absolutely terrible and shouldn't have a job. When the unions protect this type of teacher we all lose. Removing Unions isn't the answer, changing the tenure system is.
Javinator
5 / 5 (4) Jun 14, 2011
where after 5 years the average teacher makes over $100 K Cdn @ $105 US - albeit with a higher tax rate and snow.


Yeah that's pretty false. Teachers really don't make that much. Maybe some university professors or principals or other members of the school board, but not "the average teacher" as you claim.
Javinator
5 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2011
http://www.fin.go...d11.html

The Ontario government requires the salaries of all public sector employees over $100k/year be available for the public to see.

This link is for Ontario school boards and school authorities. As I said, most people making more are principals or some other school board authority.

There are some teachers scattered throughout this list, but compared to the number of teachers in the province, I'd hardly say the average salary for teachers in Canada is $100K. Usually teachers making this much money have their Masters and/or their PhD and are involved in writing curriculum or other school board activities.
Spaceman_Spiff
5 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2011
where after 5 years the average teacher makes over $100 K Cdn @ $105 US.


This couldn't be further from the truth. I also don't see how pointing out the CAN/USD exchange rate is useful as it fluctuates greatly over time (and you also got it wrong). And pointing out that it snows in Canada is not only obvious but irrelevant considering it snows in the US as well.
COCO
1 / 5 (5) Jun 14, 2011
wow trolling teachers create trouble for Coco - I am ashiver with the defence of these clowns whose tenure make a civil servant jealous. Teaching may be a trade and if so we are getting what we deserve - a lot of us would like to see a profession with all that may entail
Spaceman_Spiff
5 / 5 (2) Jun 14, 2011
COCO quick question. How do you propose we educate people then if not for teachers, I mean clowns? Also, I am not a teacher, just someone who is grateful for the great education I received which allowed me to understand how to use facts in arguments and not spew uninformed nonsense in poorly constructed sentences.
Javinator
5 / 5 (2) Jun 14, 2011
Teachers deserved to be demonized given the performance of their students.

Not all the time. Some teachers are absolutely terrible and shouldn't have a job. When the unions protect this type of teacher we all lose


Just replace the word teacher with employee above and you have the main problem with most unions.

I like that unions are there to protect the employees, but those that are not performing their job adequately should not have that job.
freethinking
1 / 5 (5) Jun 14, 2011
People employed in the Public service should never be allowed to be unionized. If we the people need to trust the government, then those who are in the government should trust the very organization they run.

It is becoming well knownn that public service unions funnel tax payer money back to the democratic party, they use taxpayer money to campaign for the democratic party. They are just an arm of the democratic party.

But hey, it is well known than leftists cannot stand on their own two feet. Planned parenthood would go broke without government assistance, ACORN could not survive without government assistance, nor can the democratic party survive without government assistance.
freethinking
1 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2011
The biggest impediment for good education in the USA is not funding, but the teachers union. Remember a unions main job is to protect and enrich its members.

If the unions are removed, bad teachers can be removed. Principles can be held accountable. There can be more flexablity in the system (why does it take 4 years to learn how to teach grades 1-4 or other simple/basic classes? If you cant learn in 2 years to teach basics, then maybe you shouldn't be a teacher.)

Remember more money or technology doesnt bring better results.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2011
Teachers deserved to be demonized given the performance of their students.
Not all the time. Some teachers are absolutely terrible and shouldn't have a job. When the unions protect this type of teacher we all lose. Removing Unions isn't the answer, changing the tenure system is.

Why won't teacher unions police their own? How would you force tenure reform on unions?
COCO
1 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2011
yo spaceman - taking a break from the pipe are we? What bothers you about wanting performance associated with teaching - I do acknowledge their skill in embedding a stitled and non-sensical writing style in you but I suspect you may really be a teacher - come on now - it is a small closet you can do it.
Javinator
5 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2011
yo spaceman - taking a break from the pipe are we? What bothers you about wanting performance associated with teaching - I do acknowledge their skill in embedding a stitled and non-sensical writing style in you but I suspect you may really be a teacher - come on now - it is a small closet you can do it.


Non-sequitur and ad hominem wrapped into one neat little package. Nifty.
Gawad
5 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2011
come to Kanada where the mantra is "no teacher left behind" - where performance measures are defined and gathered by the teachers - where after 5 years the average teacher makes over $100 K Cdn @ $105 US - albeit with a higher tax rate and snow.

You know "COCO", that's called a lie.

http://resource.e...es.html/
J-n
5 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2011
So what i'm getting here from the republicans is this:

All unions are for Democrats, No public sector unions should exist.

So, we should abolish all Police and Fire unions as well? I wonder how the republicans would fare in that fight.

I know not even Scott Walker here in Wisconsin dared bring up that issue.

So, Should we as well abolish the historically republican supporting Fire and Police unions? There is more crime than there used to be, the police are obviously NOT doing their job, we should cut their wages to see if that improves their performance.

How about we remove the ability for non-individuals to give money to politicians altogether. This would mean no money from the unions, but also no money from businesses, business accounts, or Lobbying groups. Doing this would FORCE politicians to listen to the Voters and individuals as they would be their only source of cash, NOT PACs, SPACs, Unions, Corporations, etc.
Gawad
5 / 5 (2) Jun 14, 2011
wow trolling teachers create trouble for Coco

No, being a liar causes you be in trouble.
freethinking
1 / 5 (3) Jun 14, 2011
J-N, I'm not a republican :) , I agree that no public service unions should exist including fire and police, I might be convinced that only individuals be allowed to give money to political parties.

That said private individuals and (until convinced otherwise)corporations are different and are free to do with their money as they please. However once an entity (public services unions, ACORN, Planned Parenthood, Gay rights groups, Environmentalist groups, etc) receives money from the government, they must not be allowed to use that money to elect, assist, or support ANY elected official. If they do, they turn into money laundering operations.

Unions are free to give money to democrats (or republicans), just as long as unions are not paid for by taxpayers.

ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Jun 15, 2011
"The results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed that U.S. schoolchildren have made little progress since 2006 in their understanding of key historical themes, including the basic principles of democracy and America's role in the world."
""Everyone is going to participate in civic life by paying taxes, protesting against paying taxes, voting, and we must teach our children how to think critically about these issues," she said. "Clearly, we are not doing that.""
http://online.wsj...ewsThird
If students are taught to think critically, they won't vote for socialists.
freethinking
1 / 5 (3) Jun 15, 2011
Liberals/socialists think your open minded if you agree with everything they believe without questioning them. That is why they are so heavily invested in educating children. If children can be taught not to think, not to question, then they can have socialism in the USA.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2011
Liberals/socialists think your open minded if you agree with everything they believe without questioning them. That is why they are so heavily invested in educating children. If children can be taught not to think, not to question, then they can have socialism in the USA.

You're a socialist. After all, you support the military. The military is entirely a socialist outfit. Run by the government for the citizens, that's socialism.

So if you're against all forms of socialism, you msut be against the US military.

What a bunch of anti-Americans you two are.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (2) Jun 15, 2011
Socialism: state control of private property.
Govt: a monopoly on violence.
If the US defense forces are used to control/confiscate private property, then they will be just like the rest of the Regulatory State that controls private property.
The Constitution explicitly prohibits the US military from confiscating the private property of citizens. If the politicians attempted such an order, I suspect the military would strongly object and the citizens would fight back.
Better for the Regulatory State to use Legal Plunder to implement socialism.
freethinking
1 / 5 (2) Jun 15, 2011
The rantings and ravings of SH. The constitution is suppose to limit the power of all government entities. Unfortunately socialists and progressives tend to ignore the constitution. Like Obama ignoring the war powers act.... But then again, conservatives believe everyone should follow the rules. Progressives think the rules only apply to conservatives and that they can change the rules whenever they want.
COCO
1 / 5 (2) Jun 15, 2011
can we not huddle together in prayer and thank god for our warrior presidents in their continuing wars on our behalf and agree to disagree on these minor discrepancies? If we are lucky and try real hard we can make the war on education at least as successful as our war on drugs and freedom.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2011
The above story isn't a surprise to anyone. I'm not sure what this guy is talking about. Unions have always acted as campaign supporters, both financially and rhetorically. I say "good for them". Everyone needs to have a voice in the system. The checks and balances of having a two party system serve us well sometimes and become burdensome at other times. Oh well. In the mean time, I don't think it's unfair if teachers share the same unenployment woes as the rest of us. Times are tough, and they don't get a free pass at our expense, or is that not fair? Does anyone have access to the unemployment rate amongst teachers right now, compared to the general unemployment rate and compared to enemployment rates among other comparable careers? If they are better off, then they need to stop complaining, or if they are being descriminated against, then we need to stop.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2011
Like Obama ignoring the war powers act
You mean Bush Jr. right? The PATRIOT act supercedes the war powers act, this is already well established as republicans used it to substantiate the actions in Iraq.

You boys need to learn to read.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2011
I have a question: do teachers pay normal income tax?

never mind that question. I found this:

http://www.worlds...er.shtml

Notice that the US has the highest pay and the lowest tax rate for teachers out of all the countries listed. They make more than I do.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2011
I have a question: do teachers pay normal income tax?

Yes they do.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Jun 15, 2011
I have a question: do teachers pay normal income tax?

never mind that question. I found this:

http://www.worlds...er.shtml

Notice that the US has the highest pay and the lowest tax rate for teachers out of all the countries listed. They make more than I do.

Yeah, that's raw pay, how about benefits?
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2011
Not a clue, but I certainly don't get Summers off.

I'm looking on the Bureau of Labor and Statistics and I can't find anywhere that they clearly show public school teachers as a seperate group. They show education but then they show government employees, and I'm not sure which group applies to public school teachers.

http://www.bls.go...ea31.htm

If public school teachers fall under the educational services group, then they are way below the average.
GSwift7
1 / 5 (1) Jun 15, 2011
continued:

I also don't get christmas break, or spring break.

Maybe teachers should help out at other State offices, like the social services offices, when school is not in session. They make more then I do, and I only get a week off plus 6 payed holidays a year.
freethinking
1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 15, 2011
When the servants make more than the master, tell the master what to do, the servant has become the master.
freethinking
1 / 5 (3) Jun 15, 2011
SH - you need to read both the patriot act and the war powers act, and read what Obama has said in the past when Bush was in control.

But hey, honesty and reading isn't a strong point for progressives is is SH.
freethinking
1 / 5 (3) Jun 15, 2011
SH - even Your Hero Obama doesnt use the excuse of the patriot act (as even he knows it has nothing to do with Libya action and its a stupid argument to make) Instead he pulls a bigger lie. SH you'll like this one... he says he doesnt need approval because (please everyone no hysterical laughing) drum roll please... SH you'll love this...because.... the U.S. has not been involved in hostilities since NATO took the helm on April 7

Only progressives can say that the US daily bombing cities and military targets is not an hostile act.

Progressives ... change the definition of words... like IS, Hostilities, paying taxes, constitution, etc.... George Orwells would be impressed with Obama...

http://www.thebla...pproval/
GSwift7
2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 16, 2011
SH - you need to read both the patriot act and the war powers act, and read what Obama has said in the past when Bush was in control.

But hey, honesty and reading isn't a strong point for progressives is is SH


SH and I have had fun criticizing politicians and activists on both sides of the isle on several occasions. I don't think SH is unreasonable in that way. He seems to have no problem criticizing idiots and liars of any political stance with nearly equal opportunity. I have an Aunt that makes SH look conservative. Direct your angst towards people like MikeyK or Howhot, who better fit your description.
freethinking
1 / 5 (3) Jun 16, 2011
GSwift, here is some info on how SCIU operates...

http://www.thebla...actices/

More info on how Obama operates, its great to give money to Obama, if you give enough, you get more
http://www.thebla...ntracts/

GSwift7
3 / 5 (2) Jun 16, 2011
Election cycle news always has that sort of stuff. I wouldn't place too much faith in highly political sources. I'm not saying that it's untrue, but make sure you are getting all the facts and try to eliminate the pieces of the story that are pure opinion. I make that a general rule in any story I read. Especially those we talk about here on physorg.

For example, if 200 obama financial contributors got favors, how does that compare to people who have gotten favors which were not financial supporters?
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Jun 16, 2011
He seems to have no problem criticizing idiots and liars of any political stance with nearly equal opportunity.

Except when SH is the liar and idiot.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (5) Jun 16, 2011
He seems to have no problem criticizing idiots and liars of any political stance with nearly equal opportunity.

Except when SH is the liar and idiot.

Funny how you and Freethinking have undertaken a smear campaign aimed at me. Are you two just that upset that you're not allowed to pass bullshit off as fact so easily? Try yahoo answers. That might be more your speed.

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