Teachers’ unions can now point to an academic study to defend themselves against the charge that they prevent the firing of bad teachers, but the study itself is more of a hypothetical defense against very real charges.
Eunice S. Han of Wellesley College, Hillary Clinton’s alma mater, finished a study on February 27, 2016 entitled “The Myth of Unions’ Overprotection of Bad Teachers: Evidence from the District-Teacher Matched Panel Data on Teacher Turnover.” Yet and still, she spends many pages using phrases such as “suppose,” “assume,” and “predict” and developing “models” in which she adds these suppositions, assumptions and predictions to hard numbers on union membership and teacher salaries.
Moreover, she sort of gives the game away when she virtually admits that she has no hard data on teacher quality. “For teacher quality within each district, I use the variable indicating whether a teacher is recognized as a Highly Qualiﬁed Teacher (HQT),” she writes on page 13 of the study. “Although the HQT lacks an explicit link to the actual educational performance of their matched students, it can serve as a proxy for teacher quality, as it helps identify more qualiﬁed teachers.”
The footnote reads, “The HQT requirement is a provision under No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Generally, to be a Highly Qualiﬁed Teacher (HQT), a teacher must meet the states’ requirements: 1) have a bachelors’ degree; 2) hold full state certiﬁcation or licensure, including alternative certiﬁcation; and 3) demonstrate competency in the subject area they teach, such as passing a subject area test administered by the state.”
Meanwhile, as the Vergara case shows, parents are so concerned about the correlation of union strongholds and bad schools that they are willing to take their case to court, just about any court.