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Psst, Scott Walker: Unionized Teachers Might Boost SAT Scores

Before the Wisconsin governor wipes out teacher's collective bargaining rights, he might want to look at student test score data.

With the standoff between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the state's unions now approaching its second week, the rhetoric both for and against collective bargaining for teachers is flying fast and furious. One piece of data floating around the web says that students from states where teachers don't have collective bargaining have lower SAT and ACT scores.

Michael Moore, a professor at Georgia Southern University, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that only five states don't have collective bargaining because they prohibit it by law.

"Those states and their ACT/SAT rankings are as follows:

South Carolina – 50th

North Carolina – 49th

Georgia – 48th

Texas – 47th

Virginia – 44th"


Where does Wisconsin, where teachers still have collective bargaining, fall? The state's scores are ranked second in the nation.

So does unionization and the ability to collectively bargain improve test scores? According to the Shanker Institute, the nonprofit organization established in honor of the founder of the American Federation of Teachers, Al Shanker, maybe not. Matthew Di Carlo writes on their blog,

The evidence is mixed and inconclusive, especially for student achievement, and any strong, blanket statements – whether for or against unions – should be taken with a grain of salt. They make for good talking points, but their evidentiary basis is, in most cases, shaky.


However, says, Di Carlo, unions do "accomplish other goals—giving teachers (and other workers) a voice in their profession, their compensation, and their working conditions." It's a no brainer that happier employees are more productive and engaged in their work, so a happier teacher might just be more likely to do what it takes to boost student achievement.

photo (cc) via Wikimedia Commons

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