The ‘Not-Quite Profession’ Foundations of American Education
Teacher Unions • Many activities of teacher unions differ little from the traditional activities other labor unions: • Give teachers a collective voice • Engage in actions, through lobbying, political action and collective bargaining, to improve salaries, benefits and working conditions.. • Work to establish a system of workplace rules, preferably through a contract, and a jurisprudence system to enforce the rules.
Teacher Unions • Represent teachers in grievances and legal proceedings • Provide direct benefits such as life insurance travel discounts, buying services, etc. • Organize new members • In addition to these traditional union activities, teacher unions are increasingly seeking to: Influence educational policy Promote the professionalism of teachers
A Changing Role • Almost from its inception, teaching was perceived as a short-term occupation • For young, unmarried women who were ‘mothering’ and waiting until they were married and then leave • It was not seen as a fit occupation for males who would not earn enough money to be the ‘bread-winner’ of the family • With high student teacher ratios (in the 1940-1950s, classrooms often had 50-60 students) • Characteristics of a teacher—altruistic service, natural ability and virtuous womanhood
A Changing Role • 1870—66% of teachers were female • 1900—75% of teachers were female • Was there a ‘feminization’ of teaching? • In Colonial America, teachers were overwhelming male! • Tutors or teaching in private homes or schools, however, they did not teach for long. • Most moved onto higher-status professions such as the ministry or law.
A Changing Role • However, America’s population grew, as did the public education system. So, more teachers were required, women became attracted to it. • Teaching was a respectable choice for a modestly educated young woman who could earn some money before marriage. • However, men could earn more in steel mills and factories. • Plus, as more formal prep. and regulations became to appear, men did not perceive the money to be as good. • Some administrators worried that the high # of women would push away any men from entering teaching.
A Changing Role • In addition, paternalistic rules governing teachers’ lives became the norm. • Job contracts • Were highly specific • Forbade all kinds of personal behavior—socializing with men, going out alone in the evening, even marrying! • Some even described dress and hair. • Some restrictions were forced by the times and customs • No drinking, cardplaying, dancing, etc. in areas that frowned on these activities.
Teacher Preparation • In the late 1800s, teacher prep. often consisted of little more than a high school diploma and a short period (16 weeks) of training in a ‘Normal school.’ • By 1910, only 5% of teachers had more than a high school education. Rural school teachers often only had equivalent to an 8th grade education. • Around the mid-1800s, states began to get involved with requirements for teaching.
Teacher Preparation • Before this, local authorities had the power to give teaching licenses. • By 1911, 15 states issues teacher certificates, and 18 more set regulations and generated questions for exams. However, here the local authorities corrected the papers. Any problems with this? • However, in times of crisis, standards were lowered and unqualified people were allowed to teach. • Sound familiar?
Teacher Preparation • With low salaries, few people wanted to enter teaching. In 1916, in NY state, a principal earned $1,000 less/yr than a locomotive engineer. It was more profitable to mind a train, than train a mind • Nationwide, 60,000 of the 600,000 teaching positions were either vacant or held by teachers with inferior qualifications • 20% of teachers had graduated from high school and a normal school or college. • This was finally perceived as a CRISIS!!
Teacher Preparation • What happened? • Salaries were raised • Tenure provisions were instituted (By 1945, 38 states had this) • Barriers to married women were relaxed • A uniform-salary scale was created (By 1950, this was standard, almost!) • Education leaders argued successfully to raise state certification standards for elementary teachers. In 1920, only 10 states required 4 years of higher education for secondary teachers while elementary teachers did not require more than a normal school education • By the 1930s, teachers were being licensed on their professional prep.
Teacher Preparation • In the late 1990s, women comprise 85% of elementary teachers and 50% of high school teachers. • Many are married. • Certification and licensure is practiced by all states, although it does vary. Some states offer reciprocity, others do not.
Activitism and Unions • 1857 National Education Association established, 1906 chartered by Congress as a nonprofit charitable, tax exempt organization • 1899 National Teachers’ Federation formed—only open to teachers. • 1916 American Federation of Teachers founded
Activitism and Unions • Key Players in the Unionization and Professionalism of Teachers • Ella Flagg Young, NEA • Margaret Haley, Chicago Teacher’s Federation • Albert Shanker, NY Teacher
Activitism and Unions • Ella Flagg Young, NEA • Elected president of NEA in 1910 • First female superintendent of a major metro. School district—Chicago • Under her leadership the NEA first took up the issues of higher salaries, equal pay for equal work and Women's suffrage. The Chicago Teachers Federation and New York's Interborough Association of Women Teachers were instrumental in the effort to elect Ella Flagg Young.
Activitism and Unions • Margaret Haley • Margaret Haley, CTF is probably the most colorful of the early teacher unionists. • She argued that, only if teachers joined, with workers, "in their struggle to secure the rights of humanity through a more just a equitable distribution of the products of their labor" could teachers become free to "save the schools for democracy and to save democracy in the schools." • She saw women classroom teachers as a sort of white collar proletariat. The practice of paying men more than women persisted in some parts of the United States into the 1950s.
Activitism and Unions • Margaret Haley brought teachers into an alliance with the labor movement and liberal reformers. Haley and the CTF fought for higher salaries, pensions, and tenure. They opposed administrative centralization of power, and joined the Chicago Federation of Labor in 1902. • In 1986, Robert Healy, past president of the Chicago Federation of Teachers, became the first teacher to head the CFL, Illinois's most powerful labor body. • The CTF was the earliest teacher organization to earn and exercise any real power.
Activitism and Unions • CTF membership surpassed the entire national membership of the NEA at the turn of the century. • The CTF relied heavily on the courts and powerful political allies since collective bargaining had not yet been fully developed even in the private sector. • To earn power, they spearheaded political campaigns, and worked to elect judges and liberal school board members
Activitism and Unions • New York's Interborough Association of Women Teachers, who had 14,000 members by 1910, secured a state law requiring that women teachers be paid the same as men who do equal work. • Like the CTF, they gained influence by working with labor unions, the mass media, women's civic associations, civic leaders. and most importantly, politicians. • These brief incidents of teacher organization influence in Chicago and New York coincide with the growth of labor.
Activitism and Unions • In 1912, a group of teachers that would later found the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) published the first issue of The American Teacher. American Teacher is now a major publication of the American Federation of Teachers. • In 1913, the editors of The American Teacher formed the Teachers' League. The famous progressive educator John Dewey strongly spoke in favor of organizing the union. • In 1916, the league joined the American Federation of Labor, with the support of John Dewey and Margaret Haley.
Activitism and Unions • With 10,000 members from 7 locals, the AFT had more members than the NEA for a short time. • The Washington D.C. Black teachers‘ union was the eighth local, but Oklahoma City and Chicago soon dropped out under school board threats to fire teachers belonging to the union. • Teachers in the AFT local in St. Paul Minnesota hit the picket lines only once its history, but in 1947 they conducted the first teachers strike in the United States. • Other strikes occasionally occurred during the following decade, however, no teachers union had negotiation rights until April of 1960 when New York City's United Federation of Teachers threatened a strike over the issue of the right to bargain collectively.
Activitism and Unions • The National Education Association, which still contained a strong faction of school administrators up to 1972, opposed collective bargaining in the June 1961 referendum because they viewed collective bargaining as "unprofessional". • During the early 1960s, the NEA opposed collective bargaining and lost bargaining elections in Philadelphia, Boston and other cities. • Eventually, while still claiming to be against collective bargaining because it was a labor concept, the NEA changed its views and supported "professional negotiations." While opposing strikes, the NEA favored "professional holidays", and "sanctions".
Activitism and Unions • Though the NEA adopted positions supportive of activities similar to collective bargaining more than two decades ago, many employer groups continue to fight the concept. The National School Boards Association still rejects collective bargaining, and actively proposes alternatives.
Recent Past and Future • 1960-1980s—new federal programs impacted teachers and unions • 1980s saw a resurgence of criticism of public education • 1983—A Nation at Risk: National Commission on Excellence in Education • 1986—A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century—Carnegie Task Force on Teaching as a Profession • These reports also highlighted the plight of the teaching profession • 1987—Carnegie Corporation helped launch the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
Web Sites for Information • NEA http://www.nea.org • American Federation of Teachers http://aft.org • Teacher Unions in Power and Politics • http://www.educationpolicy.org/files/neaftbk/httoc.htm • Labor Relations in Education in the UShttp://www.aft.org/research/reports/collbarg/shankers.htm