Unions May Not Protect Bad Teachers as Much as You Think

By Andrew Pillow

If you have been around in education for any length of time then you have likely heard that it is nearly impossible to fire bad teachers because of unions.

The theory goes… Bad teachers get tenure… Then become nearly invincible… Then because they can’t be fired, they are simply shuffled around from school to school in a practice known as “The Dance of the Lemons.”

According to a new study, the opposite appears to be true. The Myth of Unions’ Overprotection of Bad Teachers, finds that heavily unionized districts in fact fire more bad teachers than their less unionized counterparts.

The author of the study, Eunice S. Han told Jennifer Berkshire of the Edushyster website that essentially higher salaries lead to the demise of bad teachers.

“It’s pretty simple, really. By demanding higher salaries for teachers, unions give school districts a strong incentive to dismiss ineffective teachers before they get tenure. Highly unionized districts dismiss more bad teachers because it costs more to keep them.” Han said

This flies in the face of conventional Ed-Reform wisdom, but adds an interesting counter argument to the narrative of union protection. 

Read more here. (Washington Post)

See the original interview here. (Edushyster)

Read the full study here


Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.