Yesterday, the pro-worker website We Party Patriots, posted a short article showing the relationship between Right To Work (for less) states and high school graduation rates. After seeing this, I went to the local AFT office and made some inquiries about how New Hampshire compares to Right To Work (for less) on education.
Before I dig into the facts and statistics I wanted to give a little background on Right To Work (for less) laws. Right To Work (for less) laws restrict collective bargaining. The idea behind Right To Work it to take the power away from the workers and give more power to the management (or public entity). When the collective bargaining process is weakened then teachers lose their voice. It becomes hard for the teachers to make positive changes in their schools. This mentality has led Right To Work (for less) states to fall behind in education.
So how bad are Right To Work (for less) states when you focus on education? Using information from the National Center for Education Statistics, “Nation’s Report Cards” (Nov 2011), I will show how New Hampshire ranks[i].
- NH students score higher than all 22 RTW states in READING at the 4th and 8th grade levels.
- NH has a higher % of 4th and 8th grade students testing as proficient or advanced readers than students in all 22 RTW states.
- NH 4th grade students outperform students in all 22 RTW states. Their scores are higher AND a larger % of NH 4th graders rate as proficient or advanced in Math compared to students in these states.
- NH 8th grade students outscore students in every 21 of 22 RTW states.
Early education is vitally important to a strong education. Without a strong foundation students only fall further behind. Some decide not to even finish school because they are so far behind. What happens to these children as they age? For this answer we turn to the book published by the US Census Bureau and US Dept. of Education statistics THE MEASURE OF AMERICA, 2010-2011[ii].
Their results found:
- NH’s high school graduation rates in 2007 and again in 2009 exceeded those of 18/22 ‘right to work states’ (all but the sparsely populated Great Plains states of North & South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa).
- In 2008, only one state (Wyoming) had a higher percentage of its adult population possessing high school diplomas. The other 21 RTW states had a smaller % of their adult population having finished high school and obtained a diploma.
- In 2008, New Hampshire featured a rate of adults possessing college degrees (Bachelor’s or higher) than 21/22 of the RTW states. Only Virginia and Colorado exceeded New Hampshire.
There is one more stat that I think is important when looking at education and Right To Work states. That is how do New Hampshire students hold up to other states in SAT/ACT scores.
- In 2011, 18% of NH high school students took the ACT exam. Their mean ACT composite score was higher than the mean composite score for students in EVERY ‘right to work’ states.
- In 2011 77% of NH high school seniors took the SAT. NH high school seniors had a mean SAT combined score higher than those in 21 of 22 ‘right to work’ states.
It could not be more obvious that Right To Work (for less) will have an adverse effect on the education in New Hampshire. In turn weakening the collective bargaining process has the similar effects. This is why the Chicago Teachers Strike is so important. The teachers in Chicago are fighting for a fair contract and most of their issues revolve around the children. They want smaller class sizes, better teaching environments, and fully funded schools. All of these things will benefit the schools, the students, and eventually the state.
All of these things are accomplished with a strong collective bargaining process.
[i] National Assessment of Educational Progress, “The Nation’s Report Card: Mathematics 2011” & “The Nation’s Report Card: Reading 2011,” released November 1, 2011, available at National Center for Education Statistics (http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/).
[ii] Lewis, Kristen & Sarah Burd-Sharps, The Measure of America, 2010-2011. NY: NYU Press & Social Science Research Council, 2010.