This interview with Steve Barr (of GreenDot Charter fame) highlights the importance of collective bargaining.
Or, rather, the fact that collective bargaining isn’t bad for schools or taxpayers. In fact, it’s quite good, Barr argues.
He really says, look, collective bargaining and tenure don’t have all these supposed negative impacts.
He says the point he wants to make is that unions shouldn’t be scared of education reform.
I think that’s a good point. There are many well-intentioned ed reformers out there who want to do what works for kids. Some of these reformers also propose ideas that run counter to what unions have traditionally supported.
That doesn’t mean ed reform is bad.
But I think Barr’s argument is important for ed reformers, too. So often, we hear about the “union” getting in the way of reform. And sure, sometimes there is union pushback on reform efforts.
But Barr would tell reformers: Don’t attack the union. Work with them.
He makes the point that when you have happy, engaged teachers, you get student success.
And you can get those happy teachers by working with their union.
The big mistake I see in many reform efforts, especially at the state level, is policymakers totally ignoring the desires of the union.
No, the union is not always right. But, they do (as Barr notes) typically advocate for policies that are in the interests of the teachers who are their members.
Working with unions builds a spirit of collaboration rather than confrontation and can help push important reforms forward.