You’d think that getting rid of bad teachers would improve the quality of education. So I decided to take five right-to-work states (where presumably the teachers aren’t unionized) to see how their kids do on the SATs.
I selected five states from the National Right to Work website. One east, one west, one north, one south and one central. I then looked up their SAT rankings at the Commonwealth Foundation.
Here’s what I found:
VA — 32
NV — 43
ND — 7
TX — 47
KS — 8
(Note that the lower the number, the higher the ranking.)
A liberal might expect that RTW states would rank low on SATs. And a conservative might expect them to rank high. But it appears that some RTW states are high and some low. If you average the rankings, you get 27. So the average SAT ranking for a RTW state is right in the middle of the country as a whole. From which I conclude that hiring teachers “at will” makes no difference at all.
Now if my faithful reader wishes to do a more rigorous analysis, I’d like to see the results.
According to a friend who taught public school in New York City, most of the bad teachers were the new and inexperienced ones. Just the kind that Bloomberg wants more of. BITE ME, Bloomberg.
Dennis Sandler has criticized the tenuous connection in my analysis between right-to-work states and control over teacher firing.
Well, the grant to support my further research has unaccountably not come through yet. But 10 minutes on Google has gotten me closer to the goal line. I found a site that gives the rate of teacher unionization in each state (http://teachersunionexposed.com/state.php).
Now, instead of using right-to-work as a proxy for the ease of firing teachers, I can use rate of teacher unionization.
I’ve divided the states’ SAT ranks into tertiles:
1-16 — high
17-34 — medium
35-50 — low
I also divided unionization of teachers into tertiles:
67-100 — high
34-66 — medium
0-33 — low
Here, then, are the same five states I originally looked at, comparing their SAT rank and teacher unionization rate:
VA — medium SAT, low unionization
NV — low SAT, high unionization
ND — high SAT, high unionization
TX — low SAT, low unionization
KS — high SAT, high unionization
Using this improved methodology, the link between high teacher unionization and high SAT performance has gotten stronger. Three states show a high correlation, one shows a negative correlation, and one state is ambiguous.
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