Wisconsin governor prompts national debate on teacher unions

Published: Thursday, Feb. 24 2011 12:40 p.m. MST

Around the country, teacher unions are under attack.

States are looking to get rid of teacher tenure, introduce merit-based pay and dispose of or propose a host of other items teachers unions have long protected or advocated.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans on laying off 4,666 teachers the untraditional way, by merit — not by seniority — in the coming year. The Indiana Senate passed a bill this week that would put in place a new teacher evaluation system, based on student test scores and other such items. Tennessee and Ohio are considering bills that would limit teacher union's collective bargaining power. And Oklahoma has already passed such a bill.

Wisconsin, too, is considering a bill that would limit the bargaining power of unions. Just last week this bill prompted several Democrat senators to go into hiding. Many schools cancelled classes to protest such an idea, and union leaders there say it's not about the money but about the power. According to Fox News, tens of thousands have protested and the missing senators do not plan on returning Thursday, though lawmakers agreed this morning to only debate 38 more amendments to the bill for no more than 10 minutes each.

One teacher from Utah has come out against what the Wisconsin governor is doing on her blog called Lily's Blackboard. She says unions allow public workers, like teachers, to "come together and negotiate for something better," which she said has stopped the "exploitation of individuals." She, like others, also claim this proposal by the governor is not about money but about politics.

Yet many people agree with Wisconsin governor in his proposal.

One group called "Teachers Unions Exposed" explains on its website that for too long the nation has put its focus on teachers rather than on students and said "it's time we stop letting teachers unions stand in the way" of reform.

The site posted an article last week under a section titled "Labor Pains" that talks about the union debate in Wyoming. It says that Wyoming has one of the highest per pupil spending rates in the nation, yet its educational outcomes are, at best, average. The group has even created a website called stepupwyoming.com.

It also rates each state on its teacher quality and gave Utah a D- in its ability and wiliness to get rid of ineffective teachers.

The director of Association of American Educators also wrote an article for the Washington Times this week against compulsorily unionism or forcing every teacher to be a part of the union, which Wisconsin and many other states impose.

TIME came out with an article today saying perhaps it is not teachers unions that should be under attack but common practices that teacher unions and even state laws often employ that need to change. The article gave five suggestions on practices that need to be reformed.

1. Restrictions on teacher evaluations

2. Seniority layoffs

3. Teacher tenure

4. Teacher salary base

5. Forced transfers

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS