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The Relationship Between Teacher Unionism and Educational Quality: A Literature Review

Posted on | August 12, 2008 | Comments Off on The Relationship Between Teacher Unionism and Educational Quality: A Literature Review

It was easier to find assertions about the connections between teacher unionism and student achievements than find credible evidence. Major studies found both positive and negative effects, and there is considerable methodological debate about methods used. In general, the effect size is not great and often the quality of the data do not warrant the sweeping generalizations made about the research conclusions.

There is also a considerable body of research concerning union contributions to what might be considered the antecedents of achievement, such as professional development, standards and benefits, teacher compensation, job satisfaction and the attractiveness of teaching.

Overall the study concludes that the “results of most social science research are not very helpful to unionists or public policy makers who have to deal in practical ways with the impacts of unions and their rights to represent school employees….”

At the end of the study, I suggest that union leaders keep a Bargaining Book on student achievement, keeping track of educational topics as they arise in daily labor-management interactions, just as unions keep track of issues about other aspects of the contract that they want to modify in the next negotiation. This would produce both a reflection on teaching and unionism and an action agenda.

For the full text in pdf format.


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Charles Taylor Kerchner is an Emeritus Professor and Senior Research Fellow at Claremont Graduate University. My daily musings appear in the blog. The archives of my EdWeek blog are available via link under the 'On California' head. Some of my photography can be seen by clicking on 'Gallery.' And numerous links to academic work and other research and commentary can be found by clicking on 'Projects.'


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