This is the Choice Media #EdReformMinute for Monday, October 29th.
No matter which state you're living in, health care policy isn't that much different. The way electric utilities and garbage collection are run -- pretty much the same everywhere too. Traffic laws, not too different either, except for a new Texas highway that has an 85mph speed limit.
Public education policy, by contrast, is a lot different depending on which state you're in. And underneath the debates about particular teacher evaluation reforms and school choice efforts lies a key factor that's often the real driver of whether or not any change ever happens: Teacher Union Power.
Today the Fordham Institute released a study comparing the strength of different state teacher unions. They looked at factors like the percentage of teachers in the union, the level of union campaign contributions to local politicians, and how successful the unions have been in getting their way in that state.
On this basis, they concluded the strongest teacher union in the country is in Hawaii. Dara Zeehandelaar, Ph.D., is with the Fordham Institute, and she co-authored the study.
"Hawaii has the golden trifecta. It does have mandatory [collective] bargaining laws, but it also has extremely high unionization rates, which is a voluntary teacher's decision, and it can collect agency fees. So the union has a lot of money.
"Hawaii, in addition to the golden trifecta, is extremely unique because they only have one school district, and they only have one teachers union."
One of the surprises is that Indiana, with its statewide vouchers, would be classified by Fordham in the middle category of union power.
"Indiana is a great example of something we found across the nation which is that of all of the things we included in our metric, if you have a governor, if you have a legislative majority, if you have a state head of education that is empowered and is motivated, that can trump everything else that we included in our metric."
According to Fordham Institute, the state with the weakest teacher unions: Arizona.
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