“Fighting For Our Future”
March 11, 2012
Public Education Matters and Collective Bargaining Works
As Speaker O’Brien and his extremist allies in the Statehouse continue their assaults on collective bargaining, let’s take a moment to focus upon education.
We’ve already seen how data disproves claims that Right to Work—For Less legislation does not yield new jobs, contrary to the claims of its vocal supporters. We also know that New Hampshire outperforms ALL RTW states on a wide array of social and economic indicators.
Compared to every RTW state, NH has a
- Lower violent crime rate
- More health insurance coverage
- Fewer children under age 6 living in poverty
- Higher median family incomes
- Higher individual weekly earnings. (i)
But what about education? What can statistics tell us about New Hampshire’s education system, as compared to states with RTW-for less or states with no collective bargaining rights for educators?(See note for list of states).
The current assault on collective bargaining here in New Hampshire is sponsored not just by groups who dislike organized labor. No, many of them dislike and would love to dismantle public education itself, the very system which Time Magazine just a few months ago labeled the single biggest contributor to social and economic mobility and the key to the very survival of THE AMERICAN DREAM.!(ii) What are these extremists trying to do? Do they really think destroying collective bargaining in education will somehow improve the system? What can we learn from the data?
As reported by the National Center for Education Statistics in their November 2011 “Nation’s Report Cards” on reading and on math (iii) :
- NH students score higher than all 22 RTW states and all 16 states without educator collective bargaining rights 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 has a higher % of 4th grade & 8th grade students testing as proficient or advanced readers than students in virtually every one of the 16 states lacking collective bargaining for teachers (only 8th graders in Colorado equal NH).
- NH 4th grade students outperform students in all 22 RTW states and all 16 states without educational collective bargaining. 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 and 15/16 anti-collective bargaining states (only North Dakota students exceed those of New Hampshire). Even so, more NH 8th grade students rank as proficient or advanced in math than students in EVERY ‘right-to-work’ and EVERY anti-collective bargaining state.
In other words, NH’s 4th and 8th graders, learning from teachers and in schools operating under the collective bargaining laws in place since 1975 OUTPERFORM students in all the states limiting or prohibiting collective-bargaining for teachers.
Collective bargaining is certainly not the only factor contributing to New Hampshire’s excellent educational performance, but the stability and fairness created in the workplace by collective bargaining makes for a better work environment. A better working environment leads to more productive workers, and in this case, that means superior learning and test performance by New Hampshire’s students.
There is more data supporting the reality that collective-bargaining supports and enhances effective public education. For example, according to US Census Bureau and US Dept. of Education statistics as summarized in the book THE MEASURE OF AMERICA, 2010-2011 (iv) :
- 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).
- NH’s high school graduation rates in 2007 and again in 2009 exceeded the rates in 15 out of the 16 states with no collective bargaining rights for teachers (only Missouri barely exceeded NH).
- In 2008, only one state (Wyoming) had a higher percentage of its adult population possessing high school diplomas. The other 21 RTW and 15 anti-collective bargaining 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 and 14/16 anti-collective bargaining states. Only Virginia and Colorado exceeded New Hampshire.
Once again, many factors influence high school graduation rates but having a corps of dedicated and committed teachers working in a stable and fair workplace definitely contributes to New Hampshire’s excellent performance. Moreover, the more highly-educated a state’s population, the more effective are the engines of economic growth and prosperity, and the more likely we are to live out the AMERICAN DREAM. Is this what we want to put at risk?
Finally, we have ACT and SAT scores available to us to compare our 2011 New Hampshire students to those in other states (v).
- In 2011, 18% of NH high school students took the ACT exam, hoping to use it to gain admission to colleges and universities in regions outside the Northeast and East. Their mean ACT composite score was higher than the mean composite score for students in EVERY ‘right-to-work’ and every anti-collective bargaining state.
- In 2011 77% of NH high school seniors took the SAT. If we look at only states with at least an 18% participation rate like that of NH on the ACT, NH high school seniors had a mean SAT combined score higher than those in 21 of 22 ‘right to work’ 15 of 16 anti-collective bargaining states (only Idaho and Colorado had at least 18% taking the SAT and doing better than NH seniors).
Using SAT and ACT scores is a bit difficult, because students in each state tend to mostly take one or the other exam. Those who take the alternate exam (the ACT in New Hampshire, the SAT in many ‘right to work’ or anti-collective bargaining states) tend to be highly-motivated and strong students seeking admission to colleges and universities outside their home state and their region. Still, if we level the playing field and look only at states with at least an 18% high school senior participation rate on the ACT or the SAT, New Hampshire outperforms virtually every ‘right to work’ and anti-collective bargaining state. What does this show? Once again, New Hampshire’s high school seniors demonstrate their proficiency and high level of accomplishment and learning. They do this as products of an educational system that is stable, fair, and built upon the bedrock of collective-bargaining.
In other words, WE ALL BENEFIT from collective bargaining rights.
Prepared By Dr. Douglas Ley, Associate Professor of History
Franklin Pierce University
Vice President, Rindge Faculty Federation (AFT 2433)
‘Right to Work-for less’ states in 2011: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming.
States which do not ensure collective bargaining rights in education: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming.
i Lafer, Gordon. “Right to Work: A Failed Policy. A New Hampshire Update.” 2011. Economic Policy Institute.
ii Zakaria, Fareed. “When Will We Learn?” Time. November 14, 2011.
iii 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/).
iv Lewis, Kristen & Sarah Burd-Sharps, The Measure of America, 2010-2011. NY: NYU Press & Social Science Research Council, 2010.
v “Mean 2011 SAT Scores by State,” Commonwealth Foundation, September 19, 2011 at http://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/policyblog/detail/sat-scores-by-state-2011; “2011 ACT National and State Scores,” at http://www.act.org/newsroom/data/2011/states.html.