Contracting Away Success: The Way Teacher Collective Bargaining Agreements Are Undermining the Education of America's Children

Edmonds, Timothy DeLoache

While American public education once stood as an example of educational excellence globally, it now exists as only a shell of what it once was. Students from countries across the globe now routinely outperform American children and as each year passes, students filling classrooms in the United States slip farther and farther behind their international peers. American student proficiency rates across all subject areas sit at such low levels that they call into serious the question the creation of a competent and efficient workforce prepared to address and correct the varied problems the nation faces as it begins the 21st century. While numerous factors have contributed to this eroding of American education, one factor of significant influence is the practice of collective bargaining by teachers' unions with school districts, as it exists today. Though unions and collective bargaining serve an important role in American public education, protecting the interests of teachers and ensuring fair employment standards for these professionals, many aspects of these agreements between unions and school districts give short shrift to their negative implications for the students these teachers hope to educate. The goal of this Note is to demonstrate the negative effects collective bargaining has had and continues to have on student achievement in America's public schools, flesh out the problematic areas within these agreements, and put forth suggestions as to how the practice of collective bargaining might be modified to better serve American children, those on whom the public education should be principally focused.

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Columbia Journal of Race and Law

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October 20, 2012