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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Florida Education Association rates low in conservative Fordham Foundation's analysis of union strength



When it comes to perceived influence, the Florida Education Association just doesn't have it, the Fordham Foundation contends in its new review of state-level teacher unions, How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions?

Not only that, the group states in its analysis, the FEA's goals are almost completely not included in state education policy, membership is low, and its negotiating power is mediocre, even despite having constitutionally protected bargaining rights. The sway it does have often emanates from legal action, Fordham observes, but in the face of a "reform"-minded Legislature with few allies, "the FEA may soon find the gavel insufficient protection.

As a result, the FEA gets ranked 50th of 51 state unions (including D.C.):

"Florida’s state teacher union is one of the weakest in the nation: It has scant resources, few recent policy successes, a feeble reputation, and few allies in the capitol. Florida’s state union is by far the weakest of any state in which bargaining is mandatory."

FEA president Andy Ford told the Orlando Sentinel he found the report "laughable" and of little value. "It's a right-wing think tank, and you have to question, what's the political game?" he said.

What do you think? Does the Fordham Foundation make a legitimate point that, compared to other state unions, the FEA has little real swing? Or is Ford on target in suggesting that if the union were such a small threat, the lawmakers wouldn't keep targeting teachers?

[Last modified: Monday, October 29, 2012 6:28am]


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