The «New» Foundations of Teacher Education – A Reader – Revised edition
Edited By Eleanor Blair
26. The Teaching Profession at the Crossroads
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The Teaching Profession at the Crossroads
Arthur E. Wise and Michael D. Usdan
The teaching profession and the unions that represent it are at a crossroads in their history. What happens to public schools in the future depends on a confluence of trends surrounding teachers unions, teacher accountability, and curriculum.
Declining Union Power
Recent efforts to curb the power of teachers organizations, even in traditionally strong pro-union states like Wisconsin, Ohio, and Illinois, highlight how vulnerable these once-powerful groups have become. Examples of the dilution of union political influence abound. Sacrosanct tenure and seniority rights have been challenged in dozens of places, even in bastions of unionism like New York City, Chicago, and New Jersey. Unions face criticism not only from traditional Republican opponents but also from “progressive” elements of the Democratic party. Both the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) reportedly have suffered significant losses in membership, and there is little doubt that they are on the defensive.
Those who support teachers unions are increasingly concerned that the lack of respect for teachers and the decline in public sector unions will affect the morale of today’s teachers and tomorrow’s recruits to teaching. In the meantime, many education reform advocates in the political, business, and philanthropic sector, as well as substantial segments of the U.S. public, believe that the teachers unions have not pursued professional reform...
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