Monday, October 25, 2010

Antonucci Issues a Bogus Challenge to "The real effect of teachers union contracts"

In today's Answer Sheet:

The real effect of teachers union contracts


Teachers unions are a big target today of some school reformers who view these organizations as the biggest obstacle to improving student achievement. The film "Waiting for Superman" certainly did. So why are states without binding teacher contracts among the lowest-performing in the nation? Matthew Di Carlo, senior fellow at the non-profit Albert Shanker Institute, located in Washington, D.C., looks at this issue. A version of this post originally appeared on the institute’s blog. A follow-up to this post presented a supplemental analysis of the data. MORE
 Then we get this ed deform response:


"Stating there is no significant difference between bargaining and non-bargaining states when it comes to student achievement is not a winning argument for unions. We pay a 20.7% premium to have unions. Isn’t the onus on them to demonstrate their worth to students, parents and taxpayers?"
---Mike Antouncci - right wing/libertarian critic of teacher unions at EIA- Intecepts

No Mike. The onus is on the ed deformers, who have blamed low achievement on teacher unions to come up with a response to why union states have higher NAEP test scores.

He is dealing from both sides of the deck. When we talk about other factors for low scores we are attacked as "excuse makers" but Antonucci jumps right in here and says agrees that there are "other factors" when it looks like a snapshot of a test makes unions look good.

Many of us are not happy using narrow test scores to make judgements even when these are in our favor. So we hesitate to go there.

Pretty sad that he has nothing more of a response than to dare unions to prove they are worth the 20%. But look for the ed deformers to come up with some convoluted reason.

It unions are going to come under attack as being the cause of low achievement, isn't the onus on the attackers to prove that there are factors other than the union that cause states with non-binding contracts to have poorer results?

And if he is talking about the 20% premium for binding contract states, what about the higher salary levels attracting a wider recruiting pool - and is that a factor?

I'm sure there is a lot more to say on this issue as a jumping off point for this response to WfS propaganda. Here is Antonucci's complete post:
Posted: 25 Oct 2010 09:50 AM PDT
Today’s The Answer Sheet features a column by Matthew Di Carlo of the Shanker Institute wherein he compares the NAEP math and reading scores of states “with binding teacher contracts” to states without. He finds the contract states to have scores an average of 2.65 points higher.
He concludes this way:
If anything, it seems that the presence of teacher contracts in a state has a positive effect on achievement.
Now, some may object to this conclusion. They might argue that I can’t possibly say that teacher contracts alone caused the higher scores in these states. They might say that there are dozens of other observed and unobserved factors that influence achievement, such as state laws, lack of resources, income, parents’ education, and curriculum, and that these factors are responsible for the lower scores in the 10 non-contract states.
My response: Exactly.
Di Carlo isn’t comfortable claiming flat out that collective bargaining increases student test scores, but emphasizes that the opposite argument – the absence of teacher contracts would benefit test scores – lacks evidence. In his follow-up blog post, Di Carlo delves deeper into the numbers, and finds:
Finally, in all four models, the association between scores and whether or not states have binding contracts is not statistically significant at any conventional level (even at the 90% confidence level).  So, while this analysis is far from conclusive, I certainly find no evidence that teacher union contracts are the among the biggest reasons why achievement is low, as Davis Guggenheim and countless others imply (see here and here for more thorough analyses, which actually show small positive benefits of unions).
It’s going to be difficult for some to resist the temptation to argue about what effect, if any, teacher contracts have on student test scores from state to state, but it entirely misses the salient point that the purpose of teacher contracts is not, and never has been, to increase student test scores. In states with collective bargaining, contracts define the salaries, benefits and working conditions of public education employees. Since compensation accounts for upwards of 80% of all public school expenditures, we might learn something about the “real effect of teachers’ union contracts” if we compare per-pupil spending in states with binding teacher contracts to states without. Here, I use U.S. Census Bureau figures for 2007-08:
Average per-pupil spending in AL, AR, AZ, GA, LA, MS, NC, SC, TX, and VA – $8,904
Average per-pupil spending in the other 40 states and DC – $10,745
Stating there is no significant difference between bargaining and non-bargaining states when it comes to student achievement is not a winning argument for unions. We pay a 20.7% premium to have unions. Isn’t the onus on them to demonstrate their worth to students, parents and taxpayers?
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Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: http://normsnotes2.blogspot.com/

3 comments:

  1. Ain't it odd that someone you'd think would embrace merit pay would suggest better results are not worth paying for?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Only odd if the ed deformers really had an educational agenda instead of an ideological agenda. If we did a thousand experiments and showed class size really worked they would reject that solution. Or that merit pay doesn't work. Irrelevant. Or that closing schools is harmful. Or small schools are not a panacea. Oh, we did that one already.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Only odd if the ed deformers really had an educational agenda instead of an ideological agenda.
    Resume

    ReplyDelete

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