Maybe Teacher Unions Are Part of the Problem

House Bill 2011 was signed on September 4th and went into effect November 24th.  What exactly is bill 2011?

  • Districts can no longer have policies that use seniority or tenure for retention or reduction in force.
  • Districts no longer have to rehire based on employment date after reduction in force rehire.
  • Districts no longer have to equally reduce tenured teacher’s salary.  It can be done individually.
  • Number of days for inadequate teacher to correct is 60 instead of 85 instructional days
  • Teachers can not be paid for doing union business on contracted time.
  • Districts no longer have to let teachers know by April 15th if they will be renewed.
  • Districts can issue contracts anytime they want instead of between March 15th and May 15th

This all sounds like a competitive and fair work environment to me.  It seems odd that so many people (especially teachers) are crying foul.  They even go as far as saying that this makes Arizona “restrictive”.  I guess the state is putting restrictions on the districts, but it seems like they are really just preventing the union from burying the school system in the midst of a state meltdown.  Doing things by seniority instead of competence is always a slippery slope.  Best I can tell this bill isn’t preventing districts from looking at tenure/seniority, but instead is saying that it should be only ONE factor in making decisions not the SOLE factor.

I think we have to think hard about whether we really need teachers with doctorate and master degrees teaching every class in K-12.  It’s not fair to ask a teacher to get a Masters Degree and then not pay them going rate for a Master’s Degree.  We have to start getting creative in how we educate or children before it’s too late.  The current system is broken for EVERYBODY.  I am sure I pissed a lot of educators off saying the above and that is not the intent.


  1. Speaking as a former educator, I completely agree. Many would argue that my service for Teach for America makes me a more liberal teacher by default, but degree or no degree, tenure allows you to rest on your laurels. Everyone else has to work hard to keep their jobs, why shouldn’t teachers? In fact, shouldn’t teachers be working the hardest? Teaching has always been seen as a fallback profession because it seems so easy. Then teachers leave after a year or two because it becomes too hard. Being a teacher is like being a cop, or a doctor. Long hours with little reward. We need to change the perception of the profession as part of the battle to provide our kids with a quality education.

  2. I believe that less union power and involvement would lead to greater competition in the education sector. Greater competition in the education sector will lead to more choice for parents. More choice for parents is something to strive for.

  3. I agree! Its also weird that teaching is a profession which requires a masters, yet gives many, many weeks of vacation each year. Its not adding up!

  4. My wife is a school teacher currently (and I don’t necessarily speak for her when I say this) but seeing what she has to go through each year is tough since she’s not tenured yet. I’m all for more competition there. Unions seem to assume that teachers that have been in the profession longer tend to do better jobs, and this is not necessarily the case. If teachers were required to improve every year in order to receive salary increases (like the rest of the world) guess what would happen? (they might improve every year!)

    Also, this idea of tenure keeps teachers where they are for a long time, as it is difficult to keep your tenure if you want to leave the district or state. This works to counteract offering the teachers competitive wages as well. Better-paying districts should attract more talent, but instead teachers opt to stay where they are so they can keep their tenure.

    I’m all for these changes. It will keep costs down, and increase performance. Capitalism for the win!

    As a side note, I think its a sad state of affairs when district administrators–who make as much money as 2 or 3 teachers combined–are relatively safe from layoffs while the teachers on the front lines face layoffs every year as budgets shrink.

  5. Thanks for your perspective, Derek, and to all the other commenters. I go to a networking group out in Queen Creek where one of the regular attenders is a teacher. I’m pretty sure last month I signed a petition against this proposal. I’m kinda glad it had no affect because I agree more with many of the great things stated above. I’m pursuing my degree in education with the mindset to be a well-rounded teacher with a double major in elementary and special education as well as (re)learning Spanish and American Sign Language. I’m learning (and saving) as much information as possible to use in the future and can only hope to continue in that habit once teaching becomes a career.

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