Stanford Professor Terry Moe Finds Monopoly Bargaining Harmful to Students

As a public sector monopoly bargaining makes it way through the Virginia legislature, it is worthwhile to look at the evidence against such a law, especially as the bill would negatively affect both teachers and students’ performance.  Chairman of the Political Science Department at renowned Stanford University, William Bennett Munro Professor in Political Science, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and Professor, by courtesy, of Education, Terry Moe is an expert on collective bargaining and education.  In his 2011 groundbreaking book, “ Special Interest,” he carefully outlines everything you could ever wish to know about monopoly bargaining and teacher unions.  Below are excerpts from his article in the American Journal of Political Science, “Collective Bargaining and the Performance of Public Schools.”

This article focuses on the public schools, which are among the most numerous government agencies in the country, and investigates whether collective bargaining by teachers—the key bureaucrats—affects the schools’ capacity to educate children. Using California data, analysis shows that, in large school districts, restrictive labor contracts have a very negative impact on academic achievement, particularly for minority students. The evidence suggests, then, that public sector unions do indeed have important consequences for American public education. Whether they are consequential in other areas of government remains to be seen, but it is an avenue well worth pursuing.

Public sector unions have changed the dynamics of American politics. They have compelling incentives to be politically active, because their members depend on government for their livelihoods. They have done more, however, than change the nation’s politics. For when they engage in collective bargaining, the contracts that result—each of which may impose hundreds of formal rules—become part of the structure of government.