Editorial: Beyond collective bargaining

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With a mission that aims to impact the teaching profession, NCTQ staff has been gripped (and troubled) by recent legislative battles in Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey and Florida on the bargaining rights of teachers. Over the years, we too have analyzed and discussed many of the same issues that also seem to have whipped up some Republican governors and legislators into a frenzy (see here and here), though we see a clear distinction between the solutions we offer--which are fair to both the profession and the public--and the results in these states. In spite of attempts to dismiss our work as partisan, our research and advocacy straddle long-standing divides to push an education reform agenda focused on effective teachers for all children.

The vision we have for teachers, the institutions that prepare them, the districts that employ them and the state agencies that regulate them is one in which excellence is honored and rewarded and resources are well-deployed. Implicit in our beliefs is that education is an unquestioned public good and should remain so. That does not appear to be the belief of at least some share of the activists, politicians and political donors who are inspiring these legislative battles. In fact, many of the policy solutions we advocate are now being wielded by others in an assault that touches on the very legitimacy of this public good.

Our vision of excellence in teaching and education as a whole cannot be realized through campaigns that denigrate public institutions and their employees as a matter of course. We welcome the day when the strong undercurrent of libertarianism propelling these assaults ebbs; for, whatever short-term reforms they may bring, they also engender polarization that will thwart comprehensive and long-term reform.