Unions and the education system

This past week there has been breaking news about contingent faculty at Ithaca College attempting to unionize on campus. The push was denied by the college, but it’s not the first movement of education professionals to unionize in the education system.

History of the unions

In 1857, the National Education Association was founded in order to create a group of educators. The group would collaborate about social education issues as well as work to progress the education system and its providers.

Since the NEA’s recognition as a teachers’ union, many others have been formed across the country. In fact, teachers’ unions are considered to be one of the most powerful union sectors in the nation.

This however does not mean that they have not been criticized through the years as well.

In an article for the Public School Review, Grace Chen lists out the pros and cons of teacher unions, and their effect on the education system. While she says that unionized areas of teachers tend to have better student performance, unions have become a hinderance to reform in the education system.

The Cato Institute, a public policy research organization, published an article in 2010 that also looked at the effects of teacher unions in America.

Andrew Coulson, author of the research article, took a deeper glimpse into how the unions have been effected educational policy reform since its induction into our society. 

Unions still in the news

It seems like everyday in the media, viewers are hearing about some school district talking about going on strike because of lack of negotiation in contracts. Many times, unions are involved in these negotiations, and therefore make it more difficult for terms to be agreed upon.

At the end of March of this year, the United States Supreme Court reached a split decision in a case about collective bargaining and unions. The determination of the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case, made it so that regardless of membership teachers would still be required to pay dues in part of the negotiating that a union might complete at their school district.

Many have said that the split court decision would have been ruled differently if not for the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February, but the court’s decision will pave the path for union to continue to keep their foot in the educational doorway.


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