June 9, 2013

Under siege—and in bid to stay relevant—teacher unions evolve

Original article appeared in The Hechinger Report by Sarah Butrymowicz

HONOLULU — The Hawaii State Teachers Association’s weekly briefing meeting had turned into a battle-planning session; the conference room became a war room. It was late November. Officials were digging in for a protracted fight with the state over teacher evaluations and compensation.

Educators 4 Excellence (E4E), begun in New York City, has recruited more than 9,000 teachers nationwide. The group pushes for merit pay and an end to seniority-based layoffs. E4E members have made policy recommendations for teacher evaluations in New York and Los Angeles.

“One of the things we really want to do is have teachers see their union to be a lever for change,” said Evan Stone, a cofounder of E4E. “Unions are much more dynamic institutions than districts and states, so they should be the ones driving the changes in the teaching professions.”

Although on the surface E4E supports many proposals that union leaders across the country have been fighting, Stone said they’ve gotten mixed reactions from their teacher peers and union leaders, some of whom approve of E4E. “One misconception is that all teachers feel the same way, and that all union leaders feel the same way,” he said.

Read the entire article at The Hechinger Report.