Study Ranks Indiana Teachers Unions Weaker Than Most

The Fordham Institute says Indiana's unions have less influence than those in other states, but the ISTA president calls the study "laughable."

chicago teachers

Photo: Zol87

Chicago teachers protest during a strike that shut down Chicago Public Schools for more than a week.

A new national ranking places the strength of Indiana’s teachers unions below that of most other states.

The Fordham Institute study assesses teachers unions according to their power and influence across five major areas: resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies, and perceived influence.

Fordham Institute Vice President for Research Amber Winkler says the goal is to provide the most comprehensive analysis on the subject to date.

“We were interested in looking at teacher unions’ strengths because we thought that other research had used just proxies for union strengths, like how many teachers are unionized and whether the state mandates that local unions negotiate with districts,” she says. “So we said let’s try to do this more comprehensively, because we know that teacher unions can exert influence in less visible ways.”

But Indiana State Teachers Association President Nate Schnellenberger says there is no validity whatsoever to the study and there is no accurate way to rate unions based on strength.

“I thought it was a joke. I find it ironic that it was released right before Halloween. It probably should’ve been released on April Fools’ Day,” he says. “I found it pretty much to be a waste of my time as I read the report. I think its validity should be in question. They used five different areas to rank the states and I think that certainly would be very similar to comparing apples to oranges because all of the states are different both in their economic level as well as all other of those areas.”

Schnellenberger did not say whether he thought the state’s ranking should be higher or lower, but did note that about three-fourths of all teachers in the state belong to unions.

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