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Labor Industrial Relations

Special Interest: Teachers Unions and America's Public by Terry M. Moe

By Terry M. Moe

Why are America's public faculties falling so wanting the mark in teaching the nation's young children? Why are they geared up in useless ways in which fly within the face of good judgment, to the purpose that it's almost very unlikely to get even the worst lecturers out of the school room? And why, after greater than 1 / 4 century of high-priced schooling reform, have the colleges confirmed so proof against switch and so tricky to enhance? during this path-breaking publication, Terry M. Moe demonstrates that the solutions to those questions have greatly to do with lecturers unions???‚?‚?—which are by way of some distance the main strong forces in American schooling and use their strength to advertise their very own specific pursuits on the fee of what's top for children. regardless of their significance, the academics unions have slightly been studied. particular curiosity fills that hole with a rare research that's immediately fantastic and kaleidoscopic???‚?‚?—shedding new mild on their old upward thrust to energy, the organizational foundations of that strength, the methods it's exercised in collective bargaining and politics, and its sizeable effects for American schooling. the secret is uncomplicated yet devastating: so long as the academics unions stay strong, the nation's faculties seriously is not geared up to supply little ones with the best schooling attainable. Moe sees mild on the finish of the tunnel, in spite of the fact that, because of significant adjustments. One is political, the opposite technological, and the mix is destined to weaken the unions significantly within the coming years???‚?‚?—loosening their special-interest grip and commencing up a brand new period during which America's faculties can eventually be geared up within the most sensible pursuits of youngsters.

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Extra info for Special Interest: Teachers Unions and America's Public Schools

Example text

If education is at all different, it is because, unlike most areas of policy, one special interest is far more powerful than any others. By focusing on that one special interest, then, and by learning about the various roles it plays in shaping the public schools and the policies that govern them, we should be able to learn a great deal about the American education system —and why its serious problems have yet to be overcome despite a quarter century of national effort. indb 24 2/28/11 5:31 PM the problem of union powerâ•…â•… 25 So that’s the plan.

Around the turn of the century, the most powerful reform movement the nation had ever seen— the antiparty, antipatronage Progressive movement, fueled by the “good government” demands of the middle class and business—was reaching full tilt. At the heart of its agenda was civil service reform, which sought to replace patronage with a “merit” system based on tenure, job classifications, pay schedules, and other bureaucratic means of job protection. The early organizations of public sector workers eagerly signed on to the cause and, in league with Progressive reformers, became relentless and influential promoters of civil service.

What the teachers didn’t have were organizations that represented them and spoke and acted on their behalf. Major obstacles stood in their way. Some of these obstacles were political: until the middle decades of the 1900s, labor law and political power were simply stacked against them. But other obstacles were arguably even more fundamental, as they arose from within the ranks of teachers themselves, due to the wellknown “collective action problem” that plagues virtually all large groups as they seek to promote their common interests.

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