The Power of Teachers Unions

With just about a week to go before the 2012 presidential elections, all eyes are turned (at least once Sandy passes into the history books) into Get Out the Vote efforts and how successful folks are in getting folks to the polls.

In past presidentials, we have seen the power of the teachers’ unions — the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association — in getting their candidates elected.  When dear ol’ Eduflack was in electoral politics, there were few organizations as important to the win than the teachers’ unions.
Today, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now released a new study that scores states based on the strength of their respective teachers unions.  
According to Fordham, the top 10 teachers’ union states are, in order: Hawaii, Oregon, Montana, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, California, New Jersey, Illinois, New York, and Washington.  For those counting, just one, Pennsylvania, stands a swing state for next week’s balloting.
In Tier Two, we see two swing states, Ohio (12) and Wisconsin (18).  Then we see states like Nevada (25), New Hampshire (30), Colorado (35), Missouri (38), Virginia (47), and Florida (50) rounding out the list.
The full report, How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions?, can be found here.
Over at my Yes Conn, We Can blog, I take a closer look at Connecticut and its number 17, Tier Two ranking.  There, I wrote:
All told, Fordham paints an interesting picture of the power of Connecticut’s teachers unions and their impact on policy.  When we see those states ranked ahead of Connecticut, we see that AFT and CEA enjoy a strong reputation without fully demonstrating the muscle to back it.  Through a strong membership base and state law that fully embraces collective bargaining, the unions are able to enjoy a power that their involvement in politics or perceived influence warrant.

Regardless of the rankings, Connecticut’s teachers’ unions will continue to enjoy their reputation for being a major power in Connecticut politics.  And it is a reputation well deserved.  But if this year has taught us anything it is that one voice alone should not and must not dominate the discussion on how to fix our schools.
Happy reading!

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