Barron’s links Supreme Court ruling to better schools

Matthew Klein of Barron’s explains why a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling could help lead to better public schools.

The U.S. Supreme Court may have opened the door to long-needed education reforms.

In June, the court declared in its Janus decision that “extraction of agency fees from nonconsenting public-sector employees violates the First Amendment.” Government workers in California, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere will now be able to get many of the benefits of union membership without paying for them. …

… While the decision has implications for municipal bond investors and police officers, the most significant impact likely will be on America’s education system. Of the roughly 7.2 million public-sector workers in unions or employee associations, about 2.7 million are public school teachers. Many will likely drop their membership as a result of the ruling. …

… [T]here are scenarios in which weaker teachers’ unions could benefit students—particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds with few educational options outside their local public school system. Stronger collective-bargaining contracts are associated with lower graduation rates and lower test scores, especially in school districts that are poorer and have a higher share of minorities.

Some believe there is a causal connection. Michael Lovenheim of Cornell University and Alexander Willén of the Norwegian School of Economics argue that the introduction of mandatory collective bargaining between teachers’ unions and many U.S. public school districts reduced the lifetime earnings of students, especially black and Hispanic men.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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