June 5, 2012

TEACHERS’ UNIONS HAVE A POPULARITY PROBLEM: Only 22% of Americans think unions have a positive effect on schools.

However Wisconsin’s recall election turns out on Tuesday, teachers unions already appear to be losing a larger political fight—in public opinion. In our latest annual national survey, we found that the share of the public with a positive view of union impact on local schools has dropped by seven percentage points in the past year. Among teachers, the decline was an even more remarkable 16 points. . . .

The survey’s most striking finding comes from its nationally representative sample of teachers. Whereas 58% of teachers took a positive view of unions in 2011, only 43% do in 2012. The number of teachers holding negative views of unions nearly doubled to 32% from 17% last year. Perhaps this helps explain why, according to education journalist and union watchdog Mike Antonucci, top officials of the National Education Association are reporting a decline of 150,000 members over the past two years and project that they will lose 200,000 more members by 2014, as several states have recently passed laws ending the automatic deduction of union dues from teachers’ paychecks.

Well, after the behavior of teachers in Wisconsin, it’s easy to see why.

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