Collective Bargaining in Education and Pay for Performance

The purpose of this paper is to examine the interplay between emerging policy focus on teacher performance incentives and the response of teachers’ unions. The authors focus first on the policy shift itself. Without an understanding of the nature of the teacher’s job and its tradition, it is difficult to understand the tug-of-war both for and against performance incentives. They then describe major pay for performance efforts underway and examine the extent to which, and the ways in which, teachers unions are responding to demands for increased accountability, and the possible consequences of this relationship for shaping policy and practice. The authors argue that there is a clear and emergent consensus that something must be done to better incorporate results and performance into measures of teachers’ work. Because teachers unions are such important players and because teacher contracts matter, the best path forward is for reformers to engage them in reform efforts whenever possible.

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