Friday, February 12, 2010

Unionized teachers getting their money's worth

In the current issue of Cato Journal, Andrew J. Coulson suggests that teacher union members are getting their money's worth, but not for the reason they may think. Public school teachers' salaries "greatly exceed the market-determined teacher salaries of the private sector," Coulson writes.
While collective bargaining appears to offer minimal returns within the public school sector, unions nevertheless provide a valuable service to their members: protecting them from having to compete in the educational marketplace.

The NEA and AFT spend large sums on political lobbying so that public school districts maintain their monopoly control of more than half a trillion dollars in annual U.S. K-12 education spending. That monopoly, in turn, offers a more than 40 percent average compensation premium over the private sector, along with greater job security. And since both the U.S. and international research indicate that achievement and efficiency are generally higher in private sector—and particularly competitive market—education systems, the public school monopoly imposes an enormous cost on American children and taxpayers (Coulson 2009). We are paying dearly for the union label, but mainly due to union lobbying to preserve the government school monopoly rather than to collective bargaining.

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