Teachers Unions and Student Performance: Help or Hindrance?

Upjohn Author ORCID Identifier


Publication Date



The Future of Children 17(1): 175-200


Of late, unions have begun to be more supportive of school reform, moving from an adversarial bargaining model to a more collaborative one in which teachers and administrators share common goals and hold joint responsibility. Yet unions' desire to participate in reform does not match their fervor to organize in the 1960s and 1970s. While national union leadership has talked about reform, local affiliates have initiated most of the reform efforts, pioneering reforms such as accountability and incentive pay. In Eberts's view, one reason that unions have been slow to embrace reform efforts is the lack of consensus on their effectiveness. He argues that many reforms have been too narrowly focused; rather, effective schools result from well-designed systems and processes. In principle, adopting standards that help teachers focus on lessons they want students to learn, aligning their teaching to the lessons, and devising measurements that demonstrate that students are responding to these lessons can improve teaching as long as the public, policymakers, and school administrators acknowledge the complexity of the learning process and the broad outcomes that society desires.



PubMed ID



Brookings Institution Press/Project Muse

Subject Areas

EDUCATION; K-12 Education; Teachers and compensation




Eberts, Randall W. 2007. "Teachers Unions and Student Performance: Help or Hindrance?" The Future of Children 17(1): 175-200. https://doi.org/10.1353/foc.2007.0001