The public is split on the subject of teachers unions. A 1998 Gallup Poll asked whether teachers unions helped or hurt the quality of American education. The response: 27 percent said they helped, 26 percent said they hurt, and 37 percent said they made no difference. (Ten percent said they didn’t know.) Politicians generally view teachers unions according to their political affiliation — Republicans are critical, Democrats are supportive.
For all the public furor, little serious research has examined the role of teachers unions in promoting or hindering educational reform. Yet, the unions are increasingly using collective bargaining to influence the course of school reform. A new book from the Brookings Institution Press, Conflicting Missions? Teachers Unions and Educational Reform (edited by Tom Loveless), presents the latest research findings and a balanced analysis of what we know and need to know about these controversial issues.