Two reports — ironically, both from the same source (the WSJ) on the same day — point to continuing problems for the union movement.
The first is the great news out of North Carolina of a defeat for the pernicious teachers’ unions. Republican Governor Pat McCrory just signed a bill that ends K-12 teacher tenure and ends the practice of giving teachers an automatic raise for getting a Master’s degree. Both reforms are, in my view, quite defensible.
Both reforms, of course, were vociferously opposed by the rent-seekers — or rather “the teachers.” Hundreds of them turned out to show their anger. One teacher mewed that “[m]orale is going to be at an all-time low” because of the reforms. He added — in a moment of unintended comedy — that “[t]he best and the brightest aren’t going to go into the profession.” Like they are now.
The article notes that the bill aims at replacing using formal credentials with criteria such as measures student performance to determine compensation and retention. The article also notes that some studies show that these degrees don’t result in better teaching. But to be precise, the studies suggest that a Master’s in education — a notoriously nebulous subject — is worthless. A Master’s in a real subject — especially a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field — does correlate with more effective teaching.
Of course, correlation doesn’t necessarily prove causality; it could just be that a person with the intelligence to get an advanced degree in math, say, is just that much better a mathematician (so more passionate and insightful about the subject) to begin with.
My preference would be to just privatize — i.e., voucherize — all the schools, and let each school determine which teachers to hire, promote, or fire, as it sees fit — under the pressure the free market brings. Presumably, any such schools that choose to retain the tenure system would at least strictly monitor continued good performance, a provision that is invariably part of the tenure contract, but equally invariably never enforced. But these reforms are surely better than nothing.