NEA Today’s Tim Walker takes a look at high-performing countries around the world and their relationships with teachers and unions.
In its report on the 2009 PISA results, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) noted, “Some of the most successful (education) reforms are those supported by strong unions rather than those that keep the union role weak.” In other words, when all stakeholders in education sit down at the table to have candid discussions based on mutual respect, good things can happen. Good things for government, schools, educators, and, most importantly, students.
Government and union collaboration is a key component in the success of public schools in Finland, Canada, Singapore, Norway and other high-performing nations. At the recent International Summit on the Teaching Profession, held in New York City on March 16 and 17, representatives from these countries shared their success stories with the many participants, including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
These nations aren’t looking to scrap workers rights, blame them for every fiscal problem, or generally scapegoat teachers for any and all ills in the education system. It’s not all smooth sailing, but differences are addressed on a solid foundation of partnership and respect.
These countries also have strong teachers’ unions, underscoring the fact that unions do have an important and positive role to play both in upholding the profession and transforming schools – which, of course, is exactly the kind of collaborative approach endorsed by National Education Association’s Priority Schools Campaign.
To read the complete story and check out videos featuring Norway and Canada, click here.