Teacher’s unions

Teachers’ Union Teachers Union This essay will discuss about teachers unions and how it affects the US educational system. It will present the advantages for teachers who join a union. It will also proffer whether the American educational system benefit from having teachers’ unions. Teachers’ unions such as the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) give several benefits to teachers. According to Zeiger, teachers profit from unions in several ways (n. d.). Firstly, they provide legal protection to teachers in terms of job security. Second, unions help teachers draw up their contracts specifically with regards to working hours, their duties and responsibilities, the number of classes he can handle and the class size. Third, through the union, the salaries of teachers are negotiated with the school districts. Aside from salaries, their leaves are also agreed upon with the assistance of the unions. Fourth, insurance and medical benefits are discussed with the school districts through the intervention of the teachers unions. Through the unions, the teachers are able to bargain for better insurance coverage with more affordable premiums. Another benefit of teachers unions is its ability to offer credit facilities to teachers at more competitive rates than banks. Zeiger goes on further to mention that some teachers unions even provide discounts in some recreational spots such as zoos and museums (n. d.). Professional development seminars and trainings are offered by some unions. Since teachers benefit from unions, consequently, we expect that teachers unions have a positive impact on the American educational system. In a study by Coulson on teachers unions, he proposed that the effects of the unions on the educational system be analyzed through the achievement of five goals, namely, “(1) raising the members’ wages, (2) growing their membership, (3) increasing the share of public school labor force that they represent, (4) precluding pay based on performance or aptitude; and (5) minimizing competition from nonunion shops” (Coulson, Winter 2010). The first objective presented is that of increasing wages of teachers. Coulson cited data from the latest Schools and Staffing Survey that showed that the private school teachers received an average base salary of $38, 200 in 2007-2008 while teachers in traditional public schools receive $52, 100 (Winter 2010). Furthermore in the same survey, it revealed that public school teachers also get better retirement benefits than private school teachers. However according to Coulson, these higher wages and better benefits of teachers in the public sector cannot be totally attributed to the collective bargaining power of teachers unions because even before the intensive growth of unions, teachers’ wages were already on the rise (Winter 2010). The figure below clearly illustrates the rapid growth in the public school union membership and the doubling of the share of union members within the public school sector (Coulson, Winter 2010). Teachers union are said to compress wages of teachers because of lobbying (Coulson, Winter 2010). This means that teachers are not rewarded based on their performance. This compression of wages has adverse effects on the quality of education that is being offered to the students. As a result of this, some teachers who have impressive records leave their jobs because their performance is not properly recognized. (Coulson, Winter 2010). Although there are a lot of outstanding teachers, the unions have undue influence on them that may not necessarily be good for the educational system. Another effect of teachers unions on the educational system is that it minimized competition in the educational marketplace (Coulson, Winter 2010). Since the NEA and AFT allocate large sums of money for political lobbying in order to gain a monopoly of educational spending, teachers from these unions are able to earn more and gain job security over private sector teachers. The education system takes a toll in this situation since most private sector teachers who are non-unionized are, according to studies, more efficient and better achievers. This means that the American children may be receiving the losing end of the bargain in that it receives a lower quality of education. In conclusion, teachers unions have both positive and negative effects on the educational system. These unions benefit teachers especially in bargaining for higher wages and better benefits. However, teacher unions also can influence negatively on the educational system particularly with regards to the possible decline in the quality of education being offered to the American children. References Coulson, A. J. (Winter 2010). The effects of teachers unions on American education. Cato Journal , 30 (1), 155-170. Zeiger, S. (n. d.). What are the benefits of the teachers union? Retrieved October 15, 2011, from ehow. com Web site: http://www. ehow. com/facts_5723498_benefits-teachers- union_. html