Sunday, November 29, 2015

Maybe it is about the money

We have just been through a period of teacher strife in Ontario, and a lot of people got the impression that the teachers were using the children as hostages so they could fatten their own pocketbooks. Against this, the teachers' unions argued that it wasn't about money but rather they were standing up for better classroom conditions that would benefit the children.

An interesting new study in the US looked at what impact collective bargaining had on cohorts in the 1970s and 1980s. The study looked at the employment status of students before and after each state's teachers' unions were strengthened by legislation. Although stronger legislation had no effect on the average length of time students stayed in school, it led students to earn $795 less per year and work half an hour less per week at lower-skilled occupations. They were also not-quite-one-percent less likely to be employed.

There are some caveats - it's possible that current bargaining conditions are different in some way from they were a generation ago and there is no explanation of why strengthened bargaining legislation harmed student outcomes. It's possible that it became more difficult for school boards to get rid of bad teachers or perhaps the increased political influence of the teachers' unions interfered with the government's' reform efforts.  (more...)

If so, what can you do?

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