New law governing public schools negotiating with unions passed in Tennessee

If one wanted to improve schooling, the most direct way of doing so would be to introduce more competition through expanding charter schools or introducing vouchers. There is some academic research by Sam Peltzman that finds that the quality of schooling started falling with the rise of teacher unions. It would be interesting to see if the reverse holds now.

The compromise released Friday would replace the 1978 law with new procedures for choosing teacher representatives and working out agreements with school boards.

Instead of selecting one group, teachers would pick a committee of representatives through secret ballot elections. Organizations would be awarded seats on the committee based on the share of the vote they took.

This committee would then hold a series of “collaborative conferencing” meetings with the school board. These talks would be guided by a different legal framework than negotiations, which could give them less leverage to force school boards to give in on difficult points.

Talks would end in a memorandum of understanding, a legal agreement that is often less enforceable than a formal contract.

The bill also would place limits on what could be included in agreements. Compensation, insurance and benefits could be spelled out, but matters that lawmakers believe directly affect the performance of students, suchas job assignments and bonuses, could not be included. . . .



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