Green Room

Video: How teacher unions hurt schools

posted at 2:31 pm on February 11, 2013 by

Prager University has another of its excellent video series out today, and it takes a look at … education.  Stanford Professor Terry Moe discusses the single biggest obstacle to reforming the educational system, as well as the biggest reason why we need reform in the first place:

One of our staff members here at Prager University has a relative who is a gifted teacher, but who left the classroom because union politics drove her away. Many of her colleagues were more interested in ending their work day the very minute their union contract said they could than in staying an extra hour to create more effective lesson plans. Talented young teachers got passed over for promotions and raises in favor of older, burned-out union members who were biding their time until they could collect full retirement.
In our latest video, Terry Moe explains exactly why teachers unions are the main obstacle to real reform in public schools. Dr. Moe is Professor of Political Science at Stanford University.
In just five minutes, you will learn:

Why teachers unions are opposed to the interests of parents and students

Why bright, young, motivated teachers are fired first, while older, incompetent teachers are virtually immune to losing their job

Why teachers unions block school choice and won’t allow teachers’ salaries to be contingent upon whether students actually learn.

Be sure to watch it all.

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If we had real GOP leaders, this information would be common knowledge.

Such a shame.

BKeyser on February 11, 2013 at 2:51 PM

There’s only one way for teachers’ unions to have any tangible credibility for the public, the institution, and me, the teacher; namely, the willingness of the union to go on strike for the right to refuse services. I consider it to be a hostile work environment to be forced to offer a product that my costumers have no interest in. (Since I’m mid-western, I also wish for the right to split infinitives just exactly the way I please.)

HarneyPeak on February 11, 2013 at 3:11 PM

As a die-hard fiscal and social conservative and ex-teacher (union president also, as well as decades in financial management) I can only suggest that much of what has happened to teaching today is;

a. social cultural political corruption
b. these are not the same children as our parents day.
c. society abused teachers for years-underpay and substituting benefits in lieu of a fair salary.It backfired and now society is blaming teachers.
d.evaluation? No teacher gets to pick their class -and administrators invoke punishment by loading up (the conservative teachers maybe?)
e.Tenure is not absolute, but only fair dismissal procedures, and protection against politically powerful parents revenge and John Boehner type administrators.
d.Today’s teachers–many good, many rotten, many spoiled–are but the product of corrupt social constructs and liberal indoctrinators who hold the power over their degrees.
If the right forces accountablilty by class results-too many leftist administrators will cull out the few solid conservatives who speak out, and it will get even worse.

It’s not as simple as ABC my fellow conservatives.

Don L on February 11, 2013 at 3:45 PM

We’re not the ones who need to grok the contents of this video. We’re the choir.

Good Lt on February 11, 2013 at 3:52 PM

It’s not as simple as ABC my fellow conservatives.

Don L on February 11, 2013 at 3:45 PM

As my favorite manager used to say, “Don’t come to me with problems, come to me with solutions.” This video exposed problems and suggested solutions (performance pay, school choice, etc).

I would be very interested in the suggestions by a school union president, who was in a position to effect change, but…

By the way, most of my relatives have been teachers… sisters, parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents… from elementary school, to high school, to college. Some even served in administrative positions. Just to warn you (since I can smell BS).

But seriously, what is your suggestion to improving things that you weren’t able to try in your teacher union president position…

dominigan on February 11, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Unless and until ALL THE MONEY for each child (meaning the total school budget divided by the number of children) is made PORTABLE by virtue of parent-controlled vouchers, NOTHING but continued failure will take place in American schools. That failure is NOT a problem for this or any union that worries only about pay and benefits.
Competition is the ONLY way the Gubmint/Union buildings posing as schools will EVER become accountable for RESULTS.
A voucher system will create new, cost-effective, innovative schools where children can thrive and REAL teachers can make a living with real professional satisfaction.
The existing buildings will adapt and perform – or they will go out of business.

HammerNH on February 11, 2013 at 4:39 PM

Was it Albert Shanker who said something like “Until the children pay union dues I am not interested?” So maybe we should start School Kids Unions. /s

Question: If schools are under local control via local school boards why can’t the school board close down all the schools, fire all the teachers and reopen the schools as charter schools?

IdrilofGondolin on February 11, 2013 at 5:07 PM

At least in my area, school boards are controlled by the teachers unions. You don’t get elected unless you support the unions.

The problem is that parents are clueless about the effect public schools have on their kids. I talk to so many conservative parents who wonder why their kid is a liberal after sending them to a public school for 7-8 hours a day 5 days a week. Guess who is influencing them? (hint: It’s not you!)

If you are a parent who thinks your public school is different and can teach your kids right, the evidence (counting the number of kids leaving schools without even the basic understanding of our history, economics, and values) proves your public school is just as bad!!

Learning begins at home. Teach your children at home.

jya lai on February 11, 2013 at 7:31 PM

The problem is the constant benchmark tests that don’t help the good kids learn. The problem is we have so many of these test because instead of teaching our children better they lowered the standards.

Now people blame testing processes not the real culprit.

tomas on February 11, 2013 at 7:46 PM

If we had real GOP leaders a fair and balanced press, this information would be common knowledge.

Such a shame.

BKeyser on February 11, 2013 at 2:51 PM


thebrokenrattle on February 11, 2013 at 8:07 PM

My children go to a public elementary school where they receive $17,800 per student from taxes. The average class size is 27 kids. That means they collect $480,600 for one class room. I have to pay for my kids books and supplies. My kids desk are 20+ years old. Their class room has 10+ year old carpet with stains everywhere. The ceiling tiles have multiple water stains from leaks. My favorite part is watching the kids get off the bus and run to their homes. Why? Because the school cut 1/2 the janitors so the bathroom get so nasty by noon no one will use them. Where the hell does that $17,800 go ???

brewcrew67 on February 11, 2013 at 10:51 PM

I hope Mr.Moe has a good life insurance policy paid up to date.Hope he has a CCW.

jeffinsjvca on February 12, 2013 at 1:24 AM

It’s not as simple as ABC my fellow conservatives.

Don L on February 11, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Sure it is. Privatize the schools and let the money flow to the best solution. Every issue you pointed to would be solved in short order. That is the beauty of free markets. My wife is a public school teacher and a darn good one. She gets paid the same salary as the crappy teachers.

Government by its very nature cannot keep up with a vibrant changing culture. Sclerotic regulations are never going to fix the system.

Odysseus on February 12, 2013 at 6:39 AM

Question: If schools are under local control via local school boards why can’t the school board close down all the schools, fire all the teachers and reopen the schools as charter schools?

IdrilofGondolin on February 11, 2013 at 5:07 PM

The school system is actually run by the state. Local boards just administer the state’s regulations at that level. That’s why any change like this would have to occur at the state level.

Odysseus on February 12, 2013 at 6:41 AM

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