Positive Change in Teacher's Unions
Let’s hope this trend continues:
Another critical demographic shift is occurring. This one is taking place, quietly, in teachers unions: Over the past several years, teachers who have spent 10 years or fewer in the classroom have become the dues-paying majority. The impact of this new majority is as important to the role of unions as the changing electorate is to presidential elections. These newer teachers, along with many longtime teachers, are looking for their unions to elevate the profession — not to sacrifice teaching quality for job security.
…The leaders of the biggest teachers unions, including in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, largely focus on narrow contractual protections to the detriment of teacher quality and student achievement, issues that are of critical concern to the new majority of teachers.
Unions in small and medium-size districts are taking a different approach. Eschewing top-down leadership, these unions are highly collaborative. As a result, their actions reflect their members’ priorities: improved student achievement and upgraded teacher quality.
…Signs of change are appearing in major urban unions. In New York, Boston and Los Angeles, teachers voice groups — representing the opinions of the new majority as well as those of many senior teachers — have become strong advocates for changes affecting teacher quality. Their efforts, combined with those of civil rights organizations calling for more attention to student achievement, and forces within the Democratic Party pushing for accountability, are putting tremendous pressure on entrenched leadership to adopt more responsive, democratic policies. Transformation of major teachers unions may happen in the near future.
The democratic system is at the heart of our unions’ governance. The majority of teachers believe that student achievement comes first. It’s only a matter of time until all teachers unions reflect that belief — and ardently work to support it.