Teachers unions improve teacher quality and student outcomes, economist finds

Contrary to the common narrative from anti-union groups, highly unionized school districts fire more underperforming teachers than non-unionized districts and have lower dropout rates, according to new research by economist Eunice Han.

Eunice Han

Eunice Han

“It’s pretty simple, really,” said Han, who has a PhD in economics from Harvard University and spent the past three years as a postdoctoral research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge. “By demanding higher salaries for teachers, unions give school districts a strong incentive to dismiss ineffective teachers before they get tenure. Highly unionized districts dismiss more bad teachers because it costs more to keep them. …

“Highly unionized districts have more qualified teachers compared to districts with weak unionism,” Han added in an interview with education blogger Jennifer Berkshire (edushyster.com).

“Since unionized districts dismiss more bad teachers while keeping more good teachers, we should expect to observe higher teacher quality in highly unionized districts than less unionized districts – and this is exactly what I found,” she said.

“When unions, via high union density, reduce the dropout rate, they improve the educational attainment as well as the welfare of all children in the area.”

 Read the entire interview on EduShyster.com.

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