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Teacher Freedom

Research and Data on Teacher Freedom

Teachers are interested in initiatives that advance their careers and explore innovative pay raises:

  • 60% of teachers supported a North Carolina bill that proposed an 11% pay raise in exchange for giving up traditional tenure, according to the AAE 2015 National Member Survey. 71% of those surveyed are interested in a hybrid teaching role that would encompass teaching in the classroom part time with additional leadership roles in a school/ district.
  • Collective bargaining and labor reforms are also considered by AAE member teachers: 64% of those surveyed would prefer to negotiate their own contract so that they can negotiate a salary and benefits package that best suits their lifestyle.
  • For most working Americans, the amount of money they take home each year is directly correlated with their on-the-job performance—results reap rewards. In a statewide poll, Californians believe teachers’ salaries should be determined by the same standards.

Traditional teacher unions show signs of strain, losing members and money, as December 2013 Politico article highlights:

  • The National Education Association has lost 230,000 members, or 7 percent, since 2009, and it’s projecting another decline this year, which will likely drop it below 3 million members. Among the culprits: teacher layoffs, the rise of non-unionized charter schools and new laws in states such as Wisconsin and Michigan freeing teachers to opt out of the union.
  • The American Federation of Teachers has been able to grow slightly and now represents 1.5 million workers — but because many new members are retirees or part-timers who pay lower dues, union revenue actually fell last year, by nearly $6 million, federal records show.

Teacher Freedom highlighted in the Survey of America’s Charter Schools 2014:

  • Charter schools are based on the idea that freedom from constraining work rules and contracts, as well as district regulations provides an opportunity for higher performance and school success. Most charter laws do not require schools and employees to participate in unionization and collective bargaining, although the weaker laws do treat charter school teachers virtually the same as traditional public school teachers.
  • While the overwhelming majority of charter schools have been non-union since the early days of the charter movement, the small percentage that were unionized appear to be declining as a share of all charter schools. This number has dropped by five percentage points from 2009 (12%) to 2012 (7%), and many of these schools are in states where union membership is required by law. At the same time, the percentage of charter schools implementing skill-based and performance-based staff contracts has increased by eight percentage points for the former and 18 percentage points for the latter.

Anecdotes on Teacher Freedom

“MI teachers Accuse Union of Deception and Intimidation”, reports a November 2013 Detroit News article.

“On the eve of the Legislature’s Thanksgiving break, three teachers went before a Senate committee to accuse their union of deception and intimidation.

‘I just felt I needed to say something because I felt there was something unfair going on,’ said Novi special education teacher Susan Bank regarding her unsuccessful effort to stop paying dues under the state’s new right-to-work law to the Michigan Education Association. ‘People are very intimidated by union goings-on.’

Her testimony at the Nov. 13 meeting came during the first of several right-to-work-related hearings slated for a new committee whose chairman said will explore other issues but is vague about what they will be.”

Charter Teachers on Unionization according to an April 2009 New York Times piece:

“I saw early on that the union was not, in my opinion, looking to have amicable conversations with the administration. We were being encouraged to be even more miserable, and if I can avoid misery, I want to do that.” Kashi Nelson, teacher at KIPP AMP, NY

“We were totally caught off guard, and our feeling was that we are happy at our schools and we don’t need someone to step in on our behalf.  You feel like you have two parties who are freely communicating, so why would you want a third person to come in for that?” Matt Hureau, teacher KIPP Academy, NY