Right to Work Improves Teacher Quality

James Marshall Crotty, Forbes magazine, makes an interesting observation:   

Because of the alleged audacity of passing a right-to-work law during the lame-duck session of the Michigan legislature, virulent — and occasionally violent – protests at the state Capitol in Lansing are drawing national media attention. However, this Forbes education contributor wonders: once all the hullabaloo subsides, will right-to-work laws affect teacher quality in Detroit’s egregiously under-performing public schools?

According to the Census Bureau, right-to-work states enjoyed a 11.3% net increase of new residents over the past decade compared to non-right-to-work states. Naturally, increased migration produces higher competition for available jobs. In turn, increased competition is likely to produce a higher quality teaching cohort.

However, the data does not specify whether such migrations were due exclusively to right-to-work laws. After all, lower taxes, job availability, housing prices and geography are all draws for interstate migrants.

 According to the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, 72% of of all net household job growth over the past three years of the “Obama Recovery” occurred in right-to-work states. I see no reason why teachers would not benefit from this trend. Still, there might be myriad alternate causalities for this job growth that might not be directly tied to right-to-work laws.

 As you see, there’s no easy way to navigate the question I’ve posed. Employment and wages might dramatically increase in right-to-work states, but not necessarily for public workers nor necessarily for the reasons that right-to-work proponents contend.

 However, if you think public education workers, and public education itself, should be protected at all costs — even it means stomaching lower student and teacher performance in the classroom, and lack of rigorous accountability from self-perpetuating union leadership — then you should vehemently oppose Michigan’s right-to-work laws.

 Author’s Note:  Most teachers, as public employees, are subject to the stipulations in the U. S. Supreme Court Decision, Hudson vs. Chicago Teachers Union, and others.  The Beck Decision only covers private school employees.