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It's no huge surprise that a new book edited by former Clinton White House aide Andrew Rotherham and Jane Hannaway of the Urban Institute is shining a spotlight on how the "outmoded" contracts negotiated by teachers unions often don't serve kids' interests. After all, centrist Democratic Rotherham – codirector of the new think tank Education Sector and proprietor of the irreverent blog eduwonk.com – is well known for reformist views that often put him at odds with the edu-establishment. But one of the glowing blurbs on the back cover of Collective Bargaining in Education might just raise a few eyebrows: It comes from Andrew Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union. He's the union maverick who made a high-profile break with the AFL-CIO last summer. Sure, the book being released next week is scholarly and evenhanded, but this is no pro-union book and Stern's endorsement is sure to stir up the debate over the power of teachers unions.
Here's what Andrew Stern had to say about Collective Bargaining in Education: "It is unfathomable that, in light of recent efforts to close the student achievement gap, the body of research examining the impact of collective bargaining by teachers on public education is so scant. What are the facts and how do we find them? Hannaway and Rotherham rightly raise the issue and put forth real alternatives."
By Paul Bedard