Education Week: collective bargaining is producing real education reform

During the debate over Senate Bill 5 and later Issue 2, proponents of the union-busting bill tried to argue that the only way to bring unions in line was to get rid of their right to collectively bargain. However, there is ample evidence that working with labor unions through the collective bargaining process can actually produce better results.

In EdWeek today, there is a story discussing recent initiatives of private foundations — some from the teacher unions themselves — that have produced a new collaborative model in which teachers and managers work together to develop evaluation tools and other beneficial reforms. As the article puts it:

“‘In schools where people can feel free to disagree and to challenge their thinking, they’re moving forward at a much more accelerated rate,’ Mr. Collins said. ‘Teachers feel respected and teachers feel listened to—not necessarily agreed with—but they walk away from the conversation feeling like they’ve been heard.’

In fits and starts—and amid budget crises and legislative changes to bargaining—there are signs that more school administrators and teachers’ unions, like those in Springfield, are doing business together in a different way.”

Teachers unions have put millions of dollars into these collaborative efforts, which are producing results. Even in Ohio, we have seen labor’s willingness to work with management produce important reforms such as the development of the state’s new Model Teacher Evaluation System. The system was developed over the course of two years (after being part of H.B. 1, the state budget passed in 2009) with the cooperation of teachers and managers. It was field tested last school year and is in the final stages of development.

Perhaps with the defeat of Issue 2, we can now put scapegoating aside and start recognizing that teachers can be part of the solution.