Thursday, February 24, 2011

No Easy Answers, Union Busting Edition

The latest from the Republican camp is that we have to get rid of public sector unions because they cost too much and degrade the quality of government. It is hard to gauge the effectiveness of most public sector workers, but we have a lot of ways of measuring the productivity of teachers:

Only 5 states do not have collective bargaining for educators and have deemed it illegal. Those states and their ranking on ACT/SAT scores are as follows:

South Carolina – 50th
North Carolina – 49th
Georgia – 48th
Texas – 47th
Virginia – 44th

If you are wondering, Wisconsin, with its collective bargaining for teachers, is ranked 2nd in the country.

As Scott Lemieux says, this doesn't show that collective bargaining makes school systems better. The measurement has obviously been chosen to make the point; by other measures, Mississippi and Arkansas have the worse school systems, and Virginia a fairly good one. But South Carolina and Texas do badly on every measure of school performance, and that in itself shows that getting rid of unions has no magical power to make government work better.

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