Teachers talk about unions, reform

Teachers support their unions, but they’re open to reform ideas, according to a new Education Sector survey, Trending Toward Reform

Teachers think evaluations are improving. In 2011, 78 percent said their most recent evaluation was done carefully and taken seriously by their school administration.

Three out of four teachers—76 percent—say that the criteria used in their evaluation were fair.

Teachers are warming to the idea that assessing student knowledge growth may be a good way to measure teacher effectiveness, with 54 percent of 2011 teachers agreeing. This compares with 49 percent in 2007.

Teachers are still opposed to including student test scores as one component of differentiated pay, with just 35 percent supporting that idea.

Teachers do support differentiated pay for teachers who work in tough neighborhoods with low-performing schools (83 percent support). Teachers also support differentiated pay for teachers who have earned National Board of Professional Teaching Standards certification or for those who teach hard-to-fill subjects.

Few teachers want to eliminate tenure — only a third would be willing to trade tenure for a $5,000 bonus — but most agree it shouldn’t protect bad teachers, notes the Hechinger Report.

. . . a growing number of teachers believe that unions should play a role in making it easier to fire ineffective teachers. “Teachers pay the greatest price for incompetent teachers,” one teacher wrote in response to the survey. “Year after year, [other teachers] pick up the slack.”

Forty-three percent of teachers said unions should focus more on improving teacher quality, up from 32 percent in the 2007 survey. Sixty-two percent said unions could be “helpful partners in improving schools.”

About Joanne


  1. This past year, I worked with a few teachers in my district who are struggling. Each teacher I have had conversations with regarding their career. The support they have received from the district has been haphazard at best. A couple of them have been struggling since I became president of my local and only one of them has finally received a notice from the district that their job is in jeopardy.

    In school districts like mine resources are at the bare minimum. Not only are teachers being asked to do more & more, but so are our school site administration. A good evaluation takes time. It is why it is called an evaluation process. However what I have found is that some principals, because of the demands on their time, are trying to do cookie cutter evaluations and do the bare minimum of what’s called for in the contract.

    When the teacher receives their final evaluation, they are often baffled as to how the principal came to the conclusion – whether it be satisfactory or not. It hardly feels good be given a good evaluation when you know the principal was just completing a job that needed to be done.

  2. Richard Aubrey says:

    From the outside, either as a parent of a student, or a citizen merely looking in, the BIGGEST issue with unions is their fight to keep the incompetents employed. That’s the PR issue par excellence.
    That is, until the pension thing came along in the last couple of years. Then you have to blame the unions for going along with the scam. “We’ll promise you pensions in the future but we won’t fund them, okay?” “Okay”. The union rep gets the glory, the admin gets a settlement without the expense.
    Problem is, in the private sector, corps are required to report they are adequately funding their defined benefit plan each year. Nobody from the union ever bothered to ask the state about the funding. CALPERS calculates their funding requirements based on earning, iirc, 7.5%. They’re currently earnng 1%. Ought to be a union accountant insisting on better funding, starting about 1965. But if they did that, the school boards would actually have to pony up the money, and that would never do.