The Union Role in the Teaching Policy Environment
Nina Bascia, University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
The focus of this analysis was an examination of the way teacher unions participated in the teaching policy environments at state and district levels. This work, fully integrated with the Core Study, entailed a close examination of union organization and priorities, interaction with state and district policymakers, conceptions of good teaching and how to improve teaching, and interaction with the schools.
Main Research Questions
- What are the union's espoused and enacted priorities for teaching, learning, and teacher development?
- How does a union's formal organization enable or constrain its ability to foster teacher quality, both internally and in its relations with outsiders?
- How do unions interact with teachers, other important district players, and other organizations external to the district in ways that shape its contribution to teacher policy?
- What does it take for unions to participate effectively in the district policy context in ways that support teaching excellence in both daily and career-long terms?
- How are unions internally organized? What organizational capacity do they possess for engaging teachers, gathering and interpreting/information, and actually providing support for teaching?
- What priorities guide union activities and actions? How coherent are union strategies? Who participates in defining union priorities and directions? What are these strategies (examples)? Do they serve to deflect or defuse, support or augment other district policies for teaching?
Case study research
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Triage or Tapestry? Teacher Unions' Work Toward Improving Teacher Quality in an Era of Systemic Reform
A Research Report by Nina Bascia, June 2003.Description:
By examining the work of six teacher unions, this report considers the contributions that teacher unions make toward improving the quality of teaching in today's context of systemic reform.Abstract:PDFAbstractOriginal StudyOriginal Study
his report looks at and identifies emerging trends in the roles that teacher unions play in educational reform and improving the quality of teaching. A description of the efforts of six teacher unions to improve teacher quality within the context of the current systemic reform movement shows a range and depth of union initiatives beyond what is commonly known in policy research. The report highlights organizational strengths of teacher unions, the unique contributions they make to teacher quality, and some of the challenges they face. Two broad conceptions of systemic reform in support of improving teaching quality—triage and tapestry—are presented and contrasted. When educational improvement is understood as a "tapestry" of efforts that requires multiple initiatives in many arenas by many reform players, unions appear to perform several important and unique functions toward improving teacher quality.