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ES Report Snapshot

What Teachers Are Saying About Unions and Their Profession Top findings from our Trending Toward Reform survey Today’s teachers face a new slate of bold reforms. Policymakers are working to create new teacher evaluation systems, overhaul professional development, revise tenure laws, and rethink hiring, compensation, and dismissal policies. At the same time, teachers face budget

cuts and looming layoffs. How these two trends – adding on and cutting back – will intersect is a question making teachers anxious about their individual work and the future of the profession. What do today’s teachers think about these reforms and, notably, the role of teachers unions in


pushing for or against these reforms? In fall/ winter 2011, Education Sector surveyed 1,101 teachers to find out. Here’s what teachers had to say and how their opinions have changed.


FOR UNIONS KEY REFORMS Today’s teachers: Are more involved in unions Percent of union members who say: They are very or somewhat involved and engaged in the local union

Give evaluations high marks 2011




38% 24%

Depend on unions for protection Percent saying they strongly or somewhat agree with each of the following:

2011 n=1,101

Without a union, teachers would be vulnerable to school politics or administrators who abuse their power

Put more focus than they currently do on issues such as improving teacher quality and student achievement

2011 n=1,101

The evaluation was done carefully and taken seriously by administration


The rubric/criteria used for evaluation were fair and relevant


The feedback from the evaluation was meaningful and helped me improve my teaching



Want more union support in reform Generally speaking, do you think that teachers unions or associations should:

Think about your most recent formal evaluation. How close does each statement come to describing your own experience? Percent saying item comes very or somewhat close:








Support more pay for tough assignments How Much Would You Favor or Oppose Differentiated Pay Proposals?

% 100% 90% 80% 70%

Mostly stick to traditional union issues such as protecting teachers’ salaries, benefits, and jobs


42% 52%

50% 40% 30% 20% 10%

Support union help with dismissal Should Unions Help Simplify the Process for Removing Ineffective Teachers? 100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%


Low-performing schools

hard-to-fill subjects

See tenure as more meaningful When you hear that a teacher at your school has been awarded tenure, which would be more likely to cross your mind? That it’s just a formality – it has very little to do with whether a teacher is good or not





63% 69%

Compiled from Trending Toward Reform: Teachers Speak on Unions and the Future of the Profession. Trend data in part compiled from Waiting to Be Won Over: Teachers Speak on the Profession, Unions, and Reform and Stand By Me: What Teachers Really Think About Unions, Merit Pay, and Other Professional Matters. Read this report at

What Teachers Are Saying About Unions and Their Profession  

At-a-glance visual highlighting key research found in related, comprehensive publication

What Teachers Are Saying About Unions and Their Profession  

At-a-glance visual highlighting key research found in related, comprehensive publication