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But I Thought Union-Busting Solved All Educational Problems! [Corrected]

[ 168 ] February 20, 2011 |

My friend Ken Sherrill sends along the following note:

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. Let’s keep it that way.

This isn’t to say that the lack of collective bargaining explains these poor outcomes, of course, but it is true that the evidence that breaking teacher’s unions improves educational outcomes is somewhere between “exceptionally weak” and “non-existent.”

[Link]

UPDATE: Sherrill now notes that this was based on faulty data, so I retract the claim. I stand behind the claim that there’s essentially no evidence that eliminating teacher’s unions improves educational outcomes, but this was the wrong way to make the point.

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Comments (168)

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  1. DocAmazing says:

    Fortunately, Megan McArdle will never hear of this or, if she does, will file it away next to inedible macaroni & cheese recipes.

  2. DrDick says:

    It does, as long as your desired outcome is a poorly educated and ill-informed electorate.

    • Jeremiah Meyer-O'Day says:

      Which of course is the objective; Republicans can only get non-rich folks to vote for them when they are ill-informed and undereducated.

      • DrDick says:

        My point exactly.

      • Craig says:

        I’m not rich, I have a Phd, am informed (I mean, I’m reading this column, right!?) and I vote with Republicans (although only if they are truly small government. Just putting that out there….

        • Malaclypse says:

          (although only if they are truly small government.

          Similarly, I vote for Republicans, when they are actually elves disguised as humans. I never cross the Wee Folk. I also remember to close my parentheses. Just putting that out there as well…

          • antimalaclypse says:

            If you’re going to be the grammar police, you’ll have to learn how to quote correctly. It’d also help if you were going to learn how to use the ellipsis correctly. One other note, the semicolon is your friend, read up on its use!

        • DocAmazing says:

          Define “not rich”. I worked for a guy that made a half-million dollars a year and identified himself as “middle-class”.

        • hdyer says:

          I do not have the a great education but I have a load of common sense. I gain in 20 years Teaching Electronic in addition to the travel to all this great countries like the other side want us to be like .

          I agree with you 100% I vote republican when I am SURE I am getting conservative limited government, with a desire to remove the executive orders of pass presidents including those Bush left stating such as bi lingual ballots. If you nave not melted enough to be a real American to understand English don’t vote.

      • hdyer says:

        From my experience with unions nothing you say add up from my experience. I believe a right to work is better then the Union thugs who is always wrong and is defeated is all complaints with the companies with one exception a democrat department manager who needs Union due to stay in power. Very much like the person that appointed them this job. Sorry I understand numbers very good and you can make them say anything. On the news however this is not WI position or rank in education. It show 3/4 of them can not read. If you can not read you certainly can not learn anything else. Especially Math.

        • Malaclypse says:

          If you can not read you certainly can not learn anything else.

          How about writing grammatically coherent sentences in standard written English? Is that a useful skill?

          Irony is dead, and conservatives keep buggering the corpse.

          • hdyer says:

            When you become a senior citizen and
            you discover my grammar is not up to the federal school system I would feel honor not to be using your advice. Beside turkey you got the point because you scream like all liberal do with talking points from

            I May not be writing grammatically correct, However Turkey you got my point. Because like all good liberal you assault all republican. However from the records, Federal school education would never know the difference Turkey because they can not READ.

          • hdyer says:

            For your info I do not need your advice so keep your disapproval to your self. My point with or without correct grammar is not a English lesson I feel is necessary. From some wise as– attempting to show how smart your think you are.

  3. Flowers says:

    I am absolutely sure that somehow, in some way, this is really a problem with us educating illegals.

    Some how….

    • Svend says:

      Wisconsin is almost entirely European. It is not useful to compare a totally European society with a half-European society (Texas). Compare apples with apples. How do Europeans in Wisconsin stack up against Europeans in Texas?

      • Holden Pattern says:

        Oh, good. It’s the Storm Front trolls.

      • DocAmazing says:

        Actually, both are in North America. But thanks for playing.

        • Svend says:

          There is an “achievement gap” between different groups. Asians outperform whites, who outperform Hispanics who outperform blacks. This gap is constant around the whole country and nothing has ever been able to close it.

          So, if you have a state of all Asians and a state of all blacks, you’re going to have to consider the achievement gap when comparing the education systems. If you have a state that is all white and one that is 50% white, 30% Mexican and 20% black, you need to control for the achievement gap.

          The world is at it is, and pretending it isn’t, does not help anybody.

          • DocAmazing says:

            What Hath Big Straight White Al Jim Wrought?

          • Paul says:

            “…nothing has ever been able to close it.”

            Actually, we did manage to close some of the achievement gap between blacks and whites in the 1970s. Whether that was just the general improvement in educational opportunities for blacks since integration or other policies, I’m not aware. The gap has re-emerged, as you point out, but “nothing” isn’t accurate.

      • joe from Lowell says:

        Europeans in Texas?

        Immigrants go home!

      • Hogan says:

        Um. Where do you think Hispanics originally came from?

        • chris says:

          Well, aside from the ones born in this country, Central and South America, mostly.

          You see, unlike the North Americans’ policies toward Native Americans, which bore a suspicious resemblance to genocide, the colonists in Central and South America had policies more like de facto slavery. Which is no picnic, but at least you can survive it and still have descendants later.

          The result is that not just the underclass, but a substantial part of the population of those countries has substantial Native American ancestry, as much or more than they have European. Referring to those people as “Hispanic” is a little strange, but for historical reasons it’s the label we have.

          Not that any of that really has anything to do with education.

    • Malaclypse says:

      I am absolutely sure that somehow, in some way, this is really a problem with us educating illegals.

      And, once again, reality outpaces parody and satire.

      Thanks for proving no position is too foolish to preclude someone from holding it, Svend.

    • Bill says:

      True, but since they’ve recently moved Virginia away from Mexico, it should improve its rankings considerably.

  4. John Emerson says:

    The first of these links gives the legal status of collective bargaining in the various states. The second tells what proportion of the teachers in each state are unionized. The third gives educational results at the 8th grade level (no 12th grade data).

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2011/02/look_at_the_map.php/

    http://teachersunionexposed.com/state.cfm

    http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/states/

    Of the 16 states on the TPM where unionization is least prominent, eight are below average (often far below), five are about average, and only Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado are above average, and of these, Wyoming and Colorado are 38% and 48% unionized respectively.

    New York is often used as a horrible example, but their results are on a par with Wyoming’s and not too far behind Colorado’s or Virginia’s.

    The champ, as always, is North Dakota.

    “It’s not as simple as that”. “Correlation is not causation”. Nonetheless, non-unionization has been tried.

  5. Mark says:

    I would like to use this ACT/SAT information– I believe it, but still would like to confirm the source before I start repeating it. Can anyone reading help here?

  6. John Emerson says:

    The results I linked were 8th grade tests in the schools. There are problems using ACT/SAT scores because there are two different tests and different proportions of the students from the various states take the tests.

    Unfortunately there aren’t enough 12th grade results at my link to compare.

    • Jestak says:

      A good point, John. To the extent that they are useful at all, the SAT/ACT are useful for evaluating individual students. Group averages on those tests, especially at the statewide levels, are pretty meaningless. For instance, states like South Dakota often rank very high on “statewide average SAT scores.” This is not because their school systems are performing miracles, but because the SAT is taken by a very small, unrepresentative subset of high school students in those states–probably students applying to selective, out-of-state colleges.

      NAEP scores might provide a valid comparison on this issue.

      • Anonymous says:

        the SD educational system is pretty good, though — just most of the best youngsters leave, so we get left with John Thune

      • John Emerson says:

        At the high school level, North Dakota’s schools are some of the best in the country. SD’s are not as good, but still consistently better than average.

        ND is also among the best in the country for high life expectancy and low unemployment and crime.

    • BigHank53 says:

      Given Virginia’s graduation rate, I’m not surprised.

  7. cpinva says:

    i’d say gov. walker is gunning for that #46 spot. of course, for a guy who never bothered finishing college (it’s very hard you know), education probably isn’t real high on his list of priorities. an educated populace is a dangerous populace, to plutocrats.

  8. pv says:

    When Michele Bachmann called South Carolina a GOP paradise, is this what she meant?

  9. matth says:

    Using ACT state rankings from here:
    http://www.act.org/news/data/10/states.html

    GA – 34th
    NC – 21st
    SC – 44th
    TX – 33rd
    VA – 14th

    Using SAT state rankings from here:
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2007-08-28-sat-table_N.htm
    (I just averaged the three subject matter scores.)

    GA – 45th
    NC – 38th
    SC – 48th
    TX – 41st
    VA – 33rd

    In both cases, the ranks are difficult to interpret because of widely-varying participation rates. (Most of the highly-ranked states for the SAT have very low participation rates. No state ranked above 25th has a participation rate above 30%.)

  10. [...] But I Thought Union-Busting Solved All Educational Problems! [...]

  11. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by wbasinger, Julian Picaza, randy smith, Bob_DateYoungerWomen, David Judd and others. David Judd said: The 5 states which don't allow collective bargaining for teachers rank 50th, 49th, 48th, 47th, and 44th in test scores: http://bit.ly/fxXSDE [...]

  12. Not from round here says:

    The link between education and poverty is much higher, in which case the correlation is rather identical. Invoking unionization factors here is politicking under the auspices of bad science, which I thought is what I thought liberals in the US were supposed to hate about the right.

    • Warren Terra says:

      On the other hand, it’s a fair bet that the negative correlation between workers’ rights and poverty, or between unionization and poverty, involves some causation.

      • chris says:

        True, but that’s not the teachers’ union per se, it’s workers in general.

        Still, I think the Wisconsinites understand pretty clearly that first they’re coming for the teachers, it doesn’t mean all other unions are safe. IIRC firefighters were specifically exempted from the bill in an attempt to wedge them away from other unions (and because they are mostly male and therefore lean Republican) but showed up in solidarity anyway.

        • Hogan says:

          Firefighters, police and state troopers are exempted from the bill.

          In a completely random and not at all related development, those three unions endorsed Walker.

          • chris says:

            …so their solidarity with other public employees didn’t start until *after* it became clear just how ugly Walker’s agenda is. Oh well, better late than never, I guess.

            I wonder if they will have learned better by next election?

    • DocAmazing says:

      You don’t like that correlation, though it’s pretty clearly present; OK, have you another to offer?

    • John Emerson says:

      The anti-union states are also mostly anti-intellectual states where education is not valued.

      The “bad science” charge is bullshit. Politics is rarely done scientifically. What we’re facing is an also-unscientific proposal that education will be improved if the unions are busted, and usually also that school spending can be reduced while education is being improved. Both are far less plausible than the idea that, if you look at the non-union states, their schools are bad. The non-union states struggle to be average and usually fail. This isn’t a controlled-variable double-blind experiment, but it’s a brute fact. (And poverty, anti-intellectualism, and poor education results are mutually reinforcing; it’s not a one-way relationship.)

      One group of wonk liberals sees it as their role to police other liberals so they never do anything academically improper. These people are the most useless people in the world.

      • rm1948 says:

        Actually this is what is so strange about Texas. There are 2 tier 1 universities in the state and Univ of Houston just attained that status to make 3. For a state that has some really decent universities how can it suck so much with pre-collecge teaching?

    • John Emerson says:

      Incidentally, this is the third time in three days that I’ve had to argue with someone who dragged out the old “correlation is not causation” slogan as if it ended the argument. It’s something to think about, but in talking about social and historical events you almost never get the neat and tidy cause and effect relationships you get in physics, and you’re seldom really claiming to.

    • joe from Lowell says:

      So the actual link you’re postulating is between high poverty and a lack of unionization?

      I like that even better!

  13. Anonymous says:

    As Megan will explain on Monday, these states would all rank below 50 if they teachers were in a union

  14. Kate says:

    Interesting data.

    I certainly haven’t read everything that’s been said about the Wisconsin protests. Have a lot of pundits argued that breaking teachers’ unions improves educational outcomes, or that improving educational outcomes was the purpose of the bill that Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans support? If you could provide a link, that’d be great. Thanks!

  15. Kate says:

    I’ve already read the McArdle post. Maybe it’s late and I’m just loopy, but I’m having a hard time finding anything in the post that makes an unequivocal claim about union-busting leading to better educational outcomes. And the main thrust of her argument seems to be the “something has to be done about the budget” claim.

    Yes, I’d like to see Waiting for Superman when I can.

    In the meantime, though, it seems to me that that movie and Michelle Rhee have little to do with the controversial bill in Wisconsin. At least, better educational outcomes is certainly not a justification for the bill that is being offered by any of its supporters whom I’ve read. So yes, if you have a couple more references, I’d appreciate it. Thanks.

    • Hogan says:

      I would suggest that whoever made that claim should be responsible for providing the evidence. Since no one in this thread has made that claim, feel free to post this elsewhere.

      • Anonymous says:

        Then who or what is Scott arguing against (see post title and last sentence)?

        • Kate says:

          Sorry. Anonymous is me in the comment above.

        • Hogan says:

          Gee, I don’t know, maybe this? Or this guy, whose name seems to come up here now and then? Or possibly this?

          • Kate says:

            Those posts don’t really make the strong claim about union-busting leading to better educational outcomes that Scott seems to be arguing against. Most people in this thread have taken Scott’s post to have some reference to Wisconsin. Again, I haven’t noticed “union busting solves all educational problems” being prominent among the justifications for the bill. Given that, and given the “unscientific” claims being made about the data provided (which is already rather limited), you all appear to be arguing against a straw man here.

            • DocAmazing says:

              There is a fine line between disingenuousness and trolling, Kate, so let me be more gentle than I feel here. You have been given numerous links to several commentators who plainly state that union rules are responsible for retention of bad teachers and stymied attempts at novel or proven-successful educational reform programs. I’m not going to each of those articles and editorials and pulling up the quotes; they’re prominent in each case. Furthermore, it’s not like the public at large hasn’t been hammered with this propaganda for years; banging on teachers’ unions and the NEA has been a right-wing staple for a very long time, and even Oprah had praise for Rhee’s anti-union views on national television.

              No, on one has linked to an article that provides you with the quote “The governor of Wisconsin pushed through a $140 million dollar tax cut because unionized teachers are failing our children so he had to fight them in Madison so that we wouldn’t have to fight them in Washington” or something equally concrete. You’re standing in a room full of smoking guns and complaining that no one saw the shooter loading them.

              • Kate says:

                Apparently, there’s also a fine line between making a legitimate point about educational data and caricaturing your opponents’ arguments for the sake of the LGM Two Minutes Hate.

                You have been given numerous links to several commentators who plainly state that union rules are responsible for retention of bad teachers and stymied attempts at novel or proven-successful educational reform programs.

                And you’re accusing me of being disingenuous? If you can’t see the difference between the arguments you impute to anti-union conservatives (of which you’ve provided a reasonable characterization) and “union busting solves all educational problems,” then I guess I can’t help you.

              • DocAmazing says:

                And if mild hyperbole to make a point is alien to your experience, I’d argue that you haven’t read much political opinion of any type.

                You’ve made clear that you love the idea of LG&M as the flip side of TownHall, and the idea that Both Sides Do It, but you’re really going to have to do better than this, Kate.

            • hv says:

              …you all appear to be arguing against a straw man here.

              I see two possible alternatives…

              1) People believe that removing unions would ensure quality education

              2) People believe removing unions is a good idea, regardless of the degree to which it would harm education

              ======

              Everyone who feels unfairly criticized by Mr. Lemeiux or DocAmazing because they fall in the second camp, feel free to step forward and collect your apologies.

              Funny, how few people there are who are willing to go on record as not caring at all about the educational outcomes!

  16. Concerned Parent says:

    So, let me ask this… Why do teachers even need a union… and more importantly, how does being in a Union even affect how they educate their students? If I told a doctor that was on a Union, that we are going to dissolve that union, would he/she give any less care to patients?

    I think the real question to this all is why aren’t we concerned with raising the bar on education… not pandering to outdated Unions. Also, please note that just because a state has a teacher union, doesn’t mean that every public school system is unionized.

    • Kal says:

      Dear Concern Troll,

      Teachers need a union because they are workers, and like any workers require collective bargaining to obtain any leverage to get job security and decent benefits and wages. (Perhaps in your opinion this thinking is “outdated”, but as far as I can tell we are not yet living in the workers’ paradise, so unions remain necessary.)

      Teachers unions have the additional benefit that they tend to advocate that adequate resources be given to the education system, and other good things, insofar as their members are dedicated to their jobs.

      Perhaps, as an alleged parent, you would prefer that your kids be educated by people with the work conditions and qualifications of Walmart workers. I’m sorry to report that at least in the immediate future, to get that, you’ll have to home-school.

      • chris says:

        Perhaps, as an alleged parent, you would prefer that your kids be educated by people with the work conditions and qualifications of Walmart workers.

        Even if you’re not a parent, if you’re a person who expects to grow old, you should still care about education. Today’s students will be paying the social security taxes that support you when you’re 70. And one of them may have to operate on you someday. I’d rather have them get a good education than a lousy one, even if that means paying more taxes today.

        • BigHank53 says:

          Actually, this is another point that bewilders me: if I’m interpreting GOP talking points correctly, it seems that

          1. Labor should be taxed far more highly than Capital, and
          2. Capital should pay Labor as little as possible.

          I can see a curve there, and it’s not the Laffer one, either.

      • hdyer says:

        I certainly disagree with you because requiring state or federal Gov,no power to shut down it leaves Unions with all the bargaining rights. Wages for that matter is automatic by steps. In most government or semi government like postal service, it those bargain rights that cause WI to nearly be bankrupt. Unions locked in these rights and liberals in the pass who moved on when the voters turn then out left the crisis building and we see the results. At least I do I am a retired Federal employee and did not like giving unions my money for them to destroy the government by gaining rights to benefit seeking left wing workers, while holding other hostage.

        • Malaclypse says:

          In most government or semi government like postal service, it those bargain rights that cause WI to nearly be bankrupt.

          On the admittedly small chance that you have a point, could you manage to re-write this in comprehensible English, rather than Spittle-Flecked Rantish?

    • jmack says:

      Why do teachers even need a union… and more importantly, how does being in a Union even affect how they educate their students?

      For starters, unions advocate for working conditions that directly benefit their students. Unions advocate for more robust professional development opportunities and more funding for continuing education to help teachers get better at teaching. Unions are the primary advocates for public education in the first place, as well as doing the political work for equitable funding so all children get a quality education, regardless of socio-economic status. Unions are interested in “raising the bar” for education, and we advocate for that continually.

      If I told a doctor that was on a Union, that we are going to dissolve that union, would he/she give any less care to patients?

      The AMA, while not a union, does seem to have an impact on working conditions for doctors which affects level of care for patients, no? It is not that teachers or doctors would care less about students or patients without unions or the AMA, it would just more likely to have degraded working conditions and that fewer qualified people would go into those professions.

      • DocAmazing says:

        If I told a doctor that was on a Union, that we are going to dissolve that union, would he/she give any less care to patients?

        First, she or he would correct that grammar and syntax. Then she or he would tell you that the reason that your doctor in in a union (currently illegal, and the AMA is most definitely NOT A UNION, but a lobbying organization that most benfits the best-paid subspecialist doctors, not the priamry care ones–like me…) is so that he/she only has to see fifteen to eighteen patients in a seven-hour period (with the other hour devoted to returning phone calls, looking up lab results, completing chart notes and other paperwork, negotiating with your insurer…oh, and stuffing in a little lunch), so that you won’t complain that your doctor cuts you off and doesn’t listen to you and didn’t even take the time to find out what your problem was. Will she or he still see patients? Depends. If a work stoppage in necessary to force the issue, then non-emergency stuff is going to have to wait. That, by the way, is for the benefit of your child, Concerned Parent. If you Concerned Parents can’t get it together to challenge insurers on your own behalf, it fall to those of us in the medical profession to do it for you. If that means unionization, then that’s how it gets done.

        As usual, Concerned Parent, you seem concerned about the exact wrong things. Like a parent who goes on and on about some kid’s pinkeye when the kid clearly has trouble breathing, you’re complaining about teachers’ unions when public education as a whole has lost huge amounts of funding. Look at the big picture. It makes diagnosing the problem much easier.

        • Concerned Parent says:

          You are absolutely correct. Maybe we should dissolve all unions, then we can save the money that unions extort from taxpayers and funnel that money into finding teachers that JUST WANT to come and teach. Then, maybe our kids can learn something. Also, why not make it state mandates about minimum qualifications for teaching??? A lot of states do that, Tennessee for one.

          This is simple… you did not become a teacher to earn lots of money. You did not become a teacher to make a decent living. That sucks, and I do believe it should change. However, it is the same reasoning with police, fire fighters, and EMS personnel. You got into it because it is what you wanted to do. So how about we quit the bickering, and get back to just teaching our kids?

          • Furious Jorge says:

            Typical Tea Party asshole – wants public services but doesn’t want to pay for them.

            Hey, shitstain – I happen to know a lot of teachers, and while it’s true that not a single one of them went into the profession with the intention of getting rich, why shouldn’t they expect to earn a decent living? They are educating YOUR UGLY KIDS, trying to prepare them for the life that awaits them as adults.

            Is that not an important job? If so, why do you expect them to work 10 hour days for minimum wage?

            Go die in a fire, troll.

            • Concerned Parent says:

              Well, interesting that you say that you liberal piece-o-crap… but I am a fire fighter that makes considerably less than a teacher, and I put my life on the line whenever your stupid ass screws up and I have to save you. What about that?

              • mark f says:

                In that case, please do not die in a fire. There’s nothing more insufferable than the response when one of you does that.

              • Furious Jorge says:

                I am a fire fighter that makes considerably less than a teacher and I put my life on the line whenever your stupid ass screws up and I have to save you. What about that?

                Who gives a fuck? I was in the Coast Guard for years, making even less than you and risking my life just as often and in arguably more dangerous conditions to rescue fuckheads like you every time your stupid ass screwed up.

                So do I win or what?

              • Furious Jorge says:

                And I stand by my point. You are an envious Tea Party moron, who wants free public services but despises the people who provide them, simply because they are better educated and make more money than you.

                The sooner you people go Galt and become bear food, the better.

              • Malaclypse says:

                I am a fire fighter that makes considerably less than a teacher and I put my life on the line whenever your stupid ass screws up and I have to save you. What about that?

                I will be sure and thank you, once I finish thanking the lumberjacks, fishers, pilots, metal workers, sales drivers, roofers, electricians, farmers, construction workers, and truckers, all of whom face a higher likelihood of death on the job than you.

              • DocAmazing says:

                I would love to know where you live. In most areas, professional firefighters make considerably more than teachers; indeed, in most areas, professional firefighters are unionized. I use the word “professional” to differentiate from areas that have volunteer fire departments (I lived in one such area, once), wherein the firefighters are not paid, or are paid a small stipend and hold other jobs.

                Where do you live, Concerned Parent?

    • mpowell says:

      Doctors don’t have a union, but they have to get a license to practice medicine and the available licenses are effectively limited. This helps keep doctor pay higher and draws in more talented individuals to the profession. What would happen if you eliminated this structure? Well, going to the doctor would undoubtedly be cheaper (yay!), but you might be doing more harm than good by seeking his services (doh!)

      • BigHank53 says:

        Hey, these are the best leeches in this town! I caught them myself!

      • Concerned Parent says:

        To that point… in the state of Tennessee, in order to even teach any k-12 class, one needs to have a minimum 4 year degree, plus a 2-year teaching certificate. This is state law. So, with that, how do we not guarantee some sort of competence in our teachers?!

        • Furious Jorge says:

          Practicing medicine requires a lot of advanced schooling and training, as well as licensure. So why the fuck are there malpractice suits?

          • Concerned Parent says:

            Maybe there should also be malteaching suits?

            • DocAmazing says:

              Actually, there are. The reason teachers and school districts don’t get sued more often is that a) most of the suits are without merit, and b) teachers don’t have very deep pocket (neither do school districts) so there’s no money to be made on the lawsuit–nothing with which to pay a lawyer.

              But thanks for playing.

              • Heather says:

                Thanks Mike. I’d appreciate it if you’d post a link here so I could read the write-up.Some feaurtes and short term design goals:*free, free, free*open source*Creates standard .adf images of unprotected amiga disks*platform independent: Released code will be Java. With support for linux and Mac OS X in both hardware(FTDI USB chip drivers support right now) and software(Java with RXTX serial that already supports both)*runs on current Windows OSs: I see no problem with 2000/XP/2003 support, Vista whenever I get around to upgrading and testing it *uses $5.00 regular PC floppy and drive cables. no modifications, no special amiga drives, cables, or connectors*Prototype board is $10.00 WITH the SX controller*USB connectivity: no reliance on serial ports, parallel ports, or the normal associated hardware/OS abstraction/protection issues to deal with*Current ongoing 2007 project: nothing is stale, outdated, and so on.*ground-up amateur project. I’m definitely NOT an expert, but what I lack in expertise I make up in hard work and refusal to quit.(although I did feel like that many times!!)I have physically cabled the board for WRITING amiga floppies, so that is definitely a LONG TERM goal. First things first, I want to be able to get a reliable solid fast reading performance working 100%, and then writing is the next logical step.Java GUI’s are easy enough to move around and modify, so I’m not sweating the lack of a write button etc etc.Note that it is not practical at this point to build it unless you have access to SX programmer, can get samples/buy Ramtron FRAM, etc. I need to make more progress before I’m willing to put together a parts list, schematic, etc. The SX code base is in DIRE need of cleaning up, and won’t be put up in its entirety until I do so. That is the next step after writing/debugging the Java.

  17. smadin says:

    FWIW, Angus Johnston at Student Activism looked into those ranking numbers the other day, and concluded on the one hand that they’re pretty fishy, and the differences between union and non-union states aren’t nearly that huge and dramatic; but on the other hand that unionized states do show much stronger academic performance in general.

    • John Emerson says:

      That’s what the numbers I posted (not SAT / ACT) show. Of the 16 states least instituionally friendly to unions, half are unmistakably below average, five about average, and only three above average. And one of the above-average states unfriendly to unions (Colorado) is half unionized anyway.

  18. Doug says:

    Correct me if I am wrong but they are not ‘busting’ the union. Just taking away their right to collectively bargain for benefits. Big difference.

    2nd, to address the claim that

    This isn’t to say that the lack of collective bargaining explains these poor outcomes, of course, but it is true that the evidence that breaking teacher’s unions improves educational outcomes is somewhere between “exceptionally weak” and “non-existent.

    The purpose of the proposed law is not to to improve educational outcomes. That is up to the teachers and parents. It is to close a giant shortfall in the budget.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Correct me if I am wrong but they are not ‘busting’ the union. Just taking away their right to collectively bargain for benefits. Big difference.

      Explain the difference, please. Be specific and use examples.

      It is to close a giant shortfall in the budget.

      Sadly, as they say, no.

      • Doug says:

        Busting the union would be to make it illegal or to not allow them to negotiate collectively at all.

        And, when you say ‘they’ you mean talkingpointsmemo speaking for the Governor. Not the gov. himself. Please point to a quote from an elected official that is using the argument (and, if they are, they are crazy … I just haven’t seen them say it).

        • Malaclypse says:

          Please point to a quote from an elected official that is using the argument

          Please point to a concession, other than the right to bargain collectively, the union has not made.

          • Doug says:

            I can’t and don’t care to. If it were up to me, the union would be busted. Teachers unions (NOT TEACHERS!!) don’t care about kids’ education any more than legislators do. They are all about extracting as much as they can from elected officials.

            Should I take it from your response (or lack thereof) that the gov. hasn’t made the argument about improving education by eliminating collective bargaining?

            • hv says:

              Ok, so we’re admitting it is union-busting, that your junior high school semantic dodge didn’t hold up to much scrutiny at all?

              Hey, that’s progress, we’ll take it!

            • Malaclypse says:

              I can’t and don’t care to.

              Well, that’s a convincing argument.

              If it were up to me, the union would be busted.

              You could knock me over with a feather.

        • timb says:

          Unions bargain collectively. If they do not, why do they exist? Social club?

          You are taking away their main economic function, akin to “oh sure, making it illegal for the Democratic Party to nominate election candidates doesn’t take it’s right to be a Party, so what is all the fuss about?”

          Unions have to bargain collectively to be a union, otherwise what the hell are the members paying dues for?

          • Doug says:

            Let the teachers argue for benefits on their merit. Let them argue for pay on merit. Not seniority. Schools will be forced to lay off great, young energetic teachers because they are young. Measure teacher performance (it isn’t easy, but has anyone tried?). Reward performers. Don’t harbor the weak or lazy. Let market forces decide who educates. Our children deserve better.

            • Anonymous says:

              Let the teachers argue for benefits on their merit. Let them argue for pay on merit. Not seniority.

              Show me a sytem for determining teacher merit. One that isn’t heavily driven by factors that teachers don’t control.

            • DocAmazing says:

              Measure teacher performance (it isn’t easy, but has anyone tried?)

              Yes. Repeatedly. Know what happened in many cases? Those who scored poorly on arbitrary assessments were removed–then the performance of one or several of those remaining plummeted, because the “poor performer” was the one enabling that “great, young energetic” go-getter to do the job, because s/he hadn’t yet learned how to do it, and in all likelihood wouldn’t for some time–like other complex professions, teaching has a steep learning curve and a break-in period.

              This is the problem: the whole stupid world thinks it knows teachers’ jobs better than the teachers do, but doesn’t want to actually do those jobs–just tell the teachers how. If you’re not a Toyota mechanic, get out of the mechanics’ bay when the Corolla is being serviced. If you’re not a surgeon, stay out of the operating room. And if you’re not a teacher…

            • hv says:

              Measure teacher performance (it isn’t easy, but has anyone tried?).

              If only there were some way of gathering information, rather than helplessly shrugging your shoulders and then reasoning from your unchecked assertions.

            • N.C. says:

              Teacher performance is extremely hard to measure objectively. Judging teacher performance by student standardized test performance doesn’t tell you how well teachers perform, just how well they made their students cram for the test.

              Additionally, teachers often are stuck with administrative circumstances beyond their control: an overcrowded class, students unprepared by a prior course in the sequence, students with behavioral or learning disabilities, hostile parents or supervisors, athletes coddled by administration, and so on.

          • rm1948 says:

            Actually, it isn’t quite true that a union has to have collective bargaining. The local college has a union with no collective bargaining being as this is Texas. But the union does discuss working conditions and other topics. One important role is meeting with a teacher and the administration when their are contract disputes. They will even file a lawsuit for the teacher if the administration goes wonky.

            A couple years ago the admins increased the work load for the 2nd semester. The union threatened a lawsuit and the teachers received extra compensation for the increase since the increase violated the contracts signed by the individual teachers.

    • Furious Jorge says:

      The purpose of the proposed law is not to to improve educational outcomes. That is up to the teachers and parents. It is to close a giant shortfall in the budget.

      How is taking away collective bargaining rights going to close a massive (Walker-induced, btw) shortfall in the budget? Be specific and use examples.

    • Hogan says:

      Correct me if I am wrong but they are not ‘busting’ the union. Just taking away their right to collectively bargain for benefits. Big difference.

      Actually quite small. If you can’t bargain over benefits, then in effect you aren’t bargaining over pay; any raise in salary you get can be wiped out (or worse) by a change in benefits. You might as well not be bargaining at all. I know that would suit you fine, but let’s not make shit up about Walker’s proposal.

  19. Marc says:

    Personally I’d much rather see tenure disappear. While I don’t understand why teachers aren’t paid based on their performance, like many others in the work-force, I’m more concerned with why the unions/teachers contracts allow tenure to be so strong that incompetent, abusive, or otherwise bad teachers continue to work when they should be fired and save the children from having to deal with them. The bonus, we’d see improved education without having to spend more money. In fact we may save money.

    How about that?

    • DocAmazing says:

      Then we get districts in which Jesus freaks force out unprotected teachers for not teaching enough Jesus in the classroom.

      Your move.

      • Marc says:

        So you are suggesting we keep protecting bad teachers, an existing, REAL problem, on the off CHANCE that a few school districts here and there may oust a good teacher?

        While I will agree that the value of a good teacher is much higher than that of a bad teacher, I would argue that the real problem is worse than the possible problem.

        • DocAmazing says:

          “Off-chanc”? Do you not read the news?

          Religoious pressure groups act out against teachers every day. This is not a theoretical problem; it’s very, very real, and ongoing. Do you have an idea for a way to protect teachers against such pressure that doesn’t involve tenure?

        • DocAmazing says:

          Addendum: Where I live, we have a much bigger problem getting rid of bad cops than we have getting rid of bad teachers. The cops’ response: If you don’t walk the beat, you don’t know the problem.

          Let’s use that logic. Do you teach, Marc? If not, how are you qualified to judge bad teaching? How are you qualifed to suggest mechanisms to address problems, or indeed, even to identify them?

          Let’s abandon that logic. Shall we break the police unions, Marc? We have many bad cops out there, ignoring crime and abusing citizens; shall we fire them swiftly and without review?

    • Left_Wing_Fox says:

      Umm, tenure has shit all to do with unions dude. Union teachers are K-12, and there is no tenured professors at your local high school or primary school.

      Tenure is a university institution, and tenured professors are often doing their own research and academic work in addition to or conjunction with teaching.

      • Marc says:

        Perhaps the employment contracts don’t always call it tenure but it’s equivalent. Bad teachers have their jobs protected. Good teachers will teach to the best of their ability regardless, but it has to be stressful to know every day you are busting your ass to provide children the best education you can, while in the classroom next door a bad teacher doesn’t care. I’ve been in a similar situation and it sucks. Makes you question all the time, why should I work so hard when this fool over here gets paid for doing squat? The difference here is the children. Never the less, as the saying goes, one bad apple can spoil the bunch.

        Additionally not all school districts will be the same, but in general it is very difficult to fire a teacher. No ones job should be that secure, especially when our children’s (and ours) depends on it.

    • Hogan says:

      I’m more concerned with why the unions/teachers contracts allow tenure to be so strong that incompetent, abusive, or otherwise bad teachers continue to work when they should be fired and save the children from having to deal with them.

      The contracts set up procedures for determining whether teachers are incompetent, abusive or “otherwise bad” and, if they are, firing them. If principals and administrators are too incompetent to follow those procedures, that’s not the union’s fault; they’re not the ones hiring the principals and administrators.

      • Marc says:

        You seem familiar with those procedures. If so, you know they are frequently very complex with numerous loop-holes. That was done to protect teachers from being fired for political/personal reasons that have nothing to do with their teaching ability.

        You say the admins/principles are too incompetent and that’s why bad teachers aren’t fired. That may very well be part of it sure. There is also likely pressure from the school board and public and the union about hiring/firing teachers that hinders the principles ability to fire a bad teacher.

        The whole system is corrupt. I was offering one possible solution, for the sake of the children. It seems that the consensus is status-quo or start over. Personally I don’t care how it happens, but our children DESERVE a better education than they are getting much more so than the bad teachers DESERVE a job.

        • Hogan says:

          You seem familiar with those procedures. If so, you know they are frequently very complex with numerous loop-holes.

          The complexities tend to involve having to document a teacher’s badness, which also involves determining what exactly counts as badness, which is where this discussion keeps getting stuck. Once you get beyond the obvious (e.g., sexual molestation), you’re assessing the contribution of one individual to a process with multiple and not all controllable (or necessarily observable) inputs.

          The whole system is corrupt. I was offering one possible solution, for the sake of the children. It seems that the consensus is status-quo or start over. Personally I don’t care how it happens, but our children DESERVE a better education than they are getting much more so than the bad teachers DESERVE a job.

          Your frustration is real and very appropriate; but frustration doesn’t always lead to good decisions. Sometimes it leads to looking at the easiest thing to control, or maybe just reach (say, the teachers rather than the parents or the state legislators), and pushing on that.

          If part of the issue is that our K-12 public education system isn’t globally comeptitive, maybe we should look at the systems of the countries we’re falling behind and find out how they do it. I don’t think you’ll find that simply making it easy to fire teachers is a major component anywhere.

    • Furious Jorge says:

      While I don’t understand why teachers aren’t paid based on their performance, like many others in the work-force

      Part of the reason is that research has determined that the single most important variable in student success is parental involvement.

      That, of course, is something that is completely beyond the control of teachers.

      Plus, if you can devise a teacher evaluation method that accurately assesses student learning instead of student test scores, I’d love to hear it.

  20. Brian says:

    The bottom five ranking doesn’t mean much, and doesn’t mean causation. I can give you statistics go against the bottom five. 8 of the top 25 (32%) high schools in the US are from those states. Only 12 states have high schools ranked in the top 25. The rankings I give, the SAT/ACT rankings, while quantitative, are not conclusive evidence that a state’s educational system is good or bad.

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

    Best high schools in the country from US News & WR (http://education.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/education/high-schools/articles/2009/12/09/americas-best-high-schools-gold-medal-list)

    1
    Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
    Alexandria, VA 6.9 100.0

    5
    School for the Talented and Gifted at Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center
    Dallas, TX 8.0 100.0

    8
    School of Science and Engineering Magnet
    Dallas, TX 5.1 100.0

    12
    Academic Magnet High School
    No. Charleston, SC 4.7 98.2

    13
    IDEA Academy and College Prepatory
    Donna, TX 1.1 97.7

    16
    KIPP Houston High School
    Houston, TX 1.1 95.7

    18
    The Early College at Guilford
    Greensboro, NC 4.0 95.4

    24
    Raleigh Charter High School
    Raleigh, NC 4.9 91.2

    • Holden Pattern says:

      And how much money (private, parent, and public) goes to those schools? Are they allowed to exclude students?

      What your “response” says is that the states with crappy overall schools, but a few rilly rilly rilly good schools have decided to focus on just a few students at the expense of the rest of their children. Also, it’s a classic head fake to point to one or two points at one end of the bell curve to explain why everyone else has a problem.

      So not only is your anecdote not data, it’s not even really a good anecdote.

      • Hogan says:

        “The dinner was overcooked, served cold, and laced with toxins, the wine had gone bad, and we had to wait thirty minutes to get silverware that hadn’t been washed, but the coffee was excellent. Five stars!”

      • Furious Jorge says:

        If you click through to the individual school level, you’d see that many of these schools have admission policies that “merit based.” (Oddly, Texas schools did not provide any school-level data.)

        So yeah, they can exclude, which makes Brian’s comparison meaningless.

    • KimS says:

      The ranking also disregards participation, which appears to be a major factor in mean SAT / ACT scores. Iowa, one of the top ranked states based on the 2010 data from the College Board, had a 3% participation rate while Maine, ranked at the bottom, had a 92% participation rate.

      I’m not sure it’s appropriate to compare the top 3% of performers in one state to 92% of another state.

  21. [...] are the stewards of preserving public education, which is the core element of our civil life.”At Lawyers, Guns and Money, Scott Lemieux has some interesting numbers:My friend Ken Sherrill sends along the following note:Only 5 states do not have collective [...]

  22. Thomas says:

    Ooooohh, that’s devastatingly convincing data from 1999.

    Not.

  23. Hans Bader says:

    This blog post contains an inaccurate “factoid,” as others have already noted on the web.

    Virginia is NOT 44th out of 50 states on either the SAT or the ACT. It is a middling state — as Neal McCluskey notes, it ranks 22nd on the ACT.

    It also has a perfectly normal college graduation rate.

    Virginia is not exactly the Deep South.

    By the median teacher compensation in Arlington County, Virginia, is over $100,000, when benefits are added to salary. Lack of collective bargaining has not kept the teacher’s unions from being a political force to be reckoned with.

  24. joeedh says:

    I thought most liberals admitted teacher unions were harmful (in need of institutional reform, not destruction, of course), even if they would never say so in public?

    Outside of Democratic Party politics, I don’t think this is all that controversial.

    The author is abusing statistics in an attempt to build union solidarity. In other words, he is destroying the labor movement. The worst thing to happen to labor was its leaders’ embrace of the public sector (along with the dedemocratization and derationalization of the union power structure, and the rise of union totalitarianism over worker rights).

    We need an honest debate over union reform. The model used in most countries is an utter failure; only Germany comes close to a functional union model. If we don’t discuss this now, the concept of workers rights may not be around for much longer.

  25. JayDT says:

    This garbage is being passed around the Internet as fact, but the numbers are wrong. Go to the ACT website and do your own fact checking:

    http://www.act.org/news/data/10/states.html

    If you order the list for composite scores by state, you will see that Wisconsin is #17, not #2, behind Virginia (#12).

  26. [...] in the nation on SATs and ACTs, as supporters of Wisconsin government-employee unions keep falsely claiming. They’re making that claim up because Virginia bans collective bargaining by government [...]

  27. Joe T says:

    When your best argument in support of unions is to set up bogus strawman arguments like “I thought union busting solved all the worlds problems”, hoping to topple them with ease, only to discover that your irrelevant data from last century fails to convincingly knock the strawman down, you know you’ve hit a new low :)

  28. Alex says:

    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=p5_qQ6maRJmvWRlRIFh6Kbg&output=html&gid=1&single=true

    Interestingly enough the Highest rated schools have the lowest participation rates, while the Lowest scoring schools (as listed about) have the Highest participation rates. Now I KNOW those schools would NEVER discourage certain demographics from testing as it would spoil their ranks..

  29. [...] What is in question is whether or not unionization is the problem. There doesn’t seem to be a correlation between the two. Still, we hear quite a bit about the need for “accountability” and the specter [...]

  30. [...] in the nation on SATs and ACTs, as supporters of Wisconsin government-employee unions keep falsely claiming. They’re making that claim up because Virginia bans collective bargaining by government [...]

  31. [...] Just take a look at the states that have outlawed collective bargaining for educators – their … South Carolina – 50th North Carolina – 49th Georgia – 48th Texas – 47th Virginia – 44th [...]

  32. [...] in the nation on SATs and ACTs, as supporters of Wisconsin government-employee unions keep falsely claiming. They’re making that claim up because Virginia bans collective bargaining by government [...]

  33. [...] in the nation on SATs and ACTs, as supporters of Wisconsin government-employee unions keep falsely claiming. They’re making that claim up because Virginia bans collective bargaining by government [...]

  34. [...] Virginia actually beat Wisconsin in ACT scores, with Virginia ranked 12th and Wisconsin ranked 17th. Unlike Wisconsin, Virginia is a right-to-work state that bars forcing employees to pay union dues. [...]

  35. Jane says:

    This was EGREGIOUSLY false. Anyone who lives in Virginia knows that our students make it into great colleges.

    We actually rated HIGHER than Wisconsin on the ACT in 2010!

    http://www.act.org/news/data/10/states.html

    THEREFORE, by your logic, getting rid of collective bargaining means better test scores. Hah.

  36. triclops41 says:

    wow, i am scared to even start here.
    i guess i will start with this http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2011/03/longhorns-17-badgers-1.html

    if you compare white tx students to white wi students in the naep for 4th, 8th, and 12th grade, as well as black vs black, and hispanic vs hispanic, tx beats wi in all but once category for one group for one year.

    and you guys love to pretend that public and private biz labor unions serve the same function. private sector labor fights manangement, who want to get as much from the workers for as little as possible.
    are you guys really so dishonest as to think that this is the same in, for example, public education? who are teachers unions protecting teachers from that our regular legal system cant handle? other than when there are governments that are so in debt they must issue iou’s, politicians always want to hand out raises.
    why should anyone who wants to be a public school teacher have to be in a teacher’s union?
    and you guys dont see any problem in the circle jerk of union dues going to elect politicians who will pay public union workers more so that there are more union dues? voters don’t decide what public workers make, politicians who are bought by unions do!
    and you guys are the same clowns decrying the corruption of politics by kor-por-ray-shuns! and their undue lobbying influence.

    gimme a break.

  37. [...] Scott Lemieux (via): 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: [...]

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