changing education pt 2

My next step in changing education is to allow for all teachers in all states to unionize.  Currently 22 states are “right to work” states, meaning that unions are not allowed at all.  Wisconsin, Ohio, Vermont have eliminated or are attempting destroy a workers right to collectively bargain for a living wage, safe working conditions, or benefits that has helped to create a middle class in the US.  This simple step would benefit education in 3 simple and overwhelmingly positive ways.

The first benefit of unionizing public ed throughout the country comes in increased student performance. Empirical data clearly demonstrates that the worst performing states come from non-unionized public ed and that the best performing states come from unionized public ed. This trend of increased performance in public schools that are run by unionized teachers is not recent.  In fact, it has been occurring since 1959 when Wisconsin first allowed teachers to unionize.

The second benefit of unionized public ed comes in the professionalizing of the teaching profession. Baby boomers are retiring and there is an alarmingly high turnover rate of new teachers, 1 out of 3, it is important that we look at how we recruit teachers into the profession.  What do we, as a citizenry want teaching our children?  Do you want someone who cant do anything else or do you want someone with real talents in multiple professions choosing education as a career path.  My vote goes to the second option.

By professionalizing education nationwide will increase the cost of teacher’s pay and benefits.  However, education is a public good not a commodity that could or should be traded.  Understanding this simple truth; if we bring better qualified and increasing the talent that steps into the classroom we will produce better students, get better ideas on how to handle the problems that arise within education and in a classroom.  These new teachers will then become administrators and that will also improve how schools are run.

The final benefit comes after teachers professionalize nationally.  The NEA and the AFT, the two largest teachers unions in the US, bargain for more than just pay and benefits; they also bargain for working conditions.  In unionized states teachers are allowed a duty-free lunch period and a prep period to collaborate with other teachers or prepare for the rest of the day.  In some schools teachers unions have bargained for smaller classrooms, allowing teachers to better meet the needs of individual students.  In non-unionized states classroom can range up to 50 students to 1 teacher.  By unionizing a school, teachers can not only ask for but also demand better working conditions, which in turn means better learning environments.

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