How Unions Hurt Education, Students, and Teachers

Whether you are for or against unions, there is rising unrest especially in the realm of education and educational policy making. One of the leaders of this political fire storm is former Secretary of Education Rod Paige. In his book, “The War Against Hope: How Teachers and Unions, Hurt Children, Hinder Teachers, and Endanger Public Education,” he explains how teacher’s unions are selfish and that they shackle U.S. students to a failing education system.  He exposes bullying techniques that the National Education Association has used and he explains how unions terrorize teachers, students, and parents (Paige, 2007).

In many opinions, unions equal bureaucracy. Kim (2004) states that since the progressive movement the U.S. school systems have been run by an autonomous bureaucracy and professionals in the educational community. According to the author, the public has had very little to do with direct oversight. He argues that the failure of the system highlighted by low student achievement scores, high costs, the disparity of opportunity of social classes is a direct reflection of that bureaucracy and unionization. He proposes ideals that the unions disagree with. These ideas are voucher programs, charter schools, and top-down standard driven accountability systems.

In New York, the teachers unions are taking a different stance on charter schools, an issue they were firmly against in the past. According to Hill, Rainey, and Rotherham (2006) the New York United Federation of Teachers are even starting charter schools of their own. They claim that by doing so it is creating common ground between unions and anti-union advocates. They contend that charter schools allow teachers to experiment and to be innovative. These kind of attributes are difficult to achieve in the public school forum. Progressive union leaders may also find the charter schools more attractive and retention of good leadership will be the outcome.


Paige, R. (2007). The War Against Hope: How Teachers and Unions Hurt Children, Hinder Teachers, and Endanger Public Education. Thomas Nelson Publishing. Retrieved on August 1, 2009 from

Kim, S. (2004). Accountability and School Reform in the U.S. Public School System. Journal of Education Policy. Retrieved on August 1, 2009 from

Hill, P., Rainey, L., & Rotherham, A. (2004). The future of charter schools and teacher unions: Results of a symposium. National CharterSchool Research Project. Retrieved on August 1, 2009 from




Comments 2 comments

W.R. Shinn profile image

W.R. Shinn 5 years ago

Our children can and must do better. The system they and their teachers are in, is not designed for success but rather failure. With this disservice, along with piling our debt upon them, their disdain for our generation will be great, rightfully so. Great hub, thanks.



Learn Things Web profile image

Learn Things Web 5 years ago from California

Some critics suggest that the teachers union is setting up charter schools in New York in an attempt to stop the growth of nonunion charters. This brings up a problem of flexibility. If a charter has to abide by nonflexible teachers union rules, can it be as successful as one that doesn't?

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