If I Had A Million Dollars…

Politico’s Ben Smith breaks the news that the American Federation of Teachers spent a million dollars to defeat DC Mayor Adrian Fenty and most likely send their longtime nemesis Michelle Rhee packing. I just assumed their intense involvement in the race was common knowledge, ads even carried their tag line.

To give some sense of this, with approximately 4200 Washington Teachers Union members that’s about $238 per member.  Sounds expensive.  In fact, it was a bargain for the AFT.  That amount per-member would be completely unaffordable in most large cities. So forget the public rhetoric, at a price they could afford the AFT was just able to send a powerful message to politicians everywhere about their willingness to go after dissenters.  In a lot of places they won’t even have to spend nearly that much next time.   That $1 million will probably continue to pay dividends for some time.

60 thoughts on “If I Had A Million Dollars…

  1. thenofunzone

    i’m still waiting for Billy Bob to explain why unions are weak in Alabama given my response that had a few facts suggestion otherwise. also waiting to hear why we ought to dismiss arguments from endowed harvard and stanford professors in favor of a think tank of researchers at arizona state which is clearly known more for their prowess in ncaa sports than research… yawn.

  2. Billy Bob

    I see nofunnzone ignored the article by some of the best researchers in the land–typical. You both criticize me for your exact behaviors. Therapists can help with that projection problem.

  3. thenofunzone

    Best researchers Billy? Harvard and Stanford are FAR MORE prestigious places where economists work than Arizona State, Louisville, and the smattering of Tier 3 crapper schools where your cited folks have jobs. AND, my friend, might I remind you that Hoxby’s study was published in QJE – a consensus TOP econ journal with the highest standards of peer review. Every single article you cited was placed in a far lower-tier journal than either Terry Moe’s AJPS piece or Caroline’s QJE. Caroline’s research is generally always in AER, and QJE – the 2-3 best journals in the field. One of your cites that I indeed ignored was from a book publication put together by EPSL – this is not a top place to get published – not even Cambridge Press level let alone even peer reviewed. Dude I just took the woodshed to you and you have no facts to back up that Hoxby’s research is better placed by far. There is simply nothing you can say in reply. Deal with it.

  4. Billy Bob

    My post with a “more prestigious” publication was pulled. And BFD that QJE is so mega-cool. Economists may know methodology, but they don;t know jack about how schools operate or what test scores mean. And you did not even have a paper that addressed student achievement. No student achievement. Not one article that addressed the relationship between the existence of unions and student achievement. Evidently you cannot read the articles you cite.

    Get someone to read these for you.

    R. W. Eberts and J. A. Stone, “Teacher Unions and the Productivity of Public Schools.” Industrial and Labor Relations Review 40 (1987): 354-363.

    L. M. Argys and D. I. Reese, “Unionization and School Productivity: A Reexamination,” Research in Labor Economics, vol. 14, ed. S. Polacheck (Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1995), 49-68.

    M. Milkman, “Teachers’ Unions, Productivity, and Minority Student Achievement,” Journal of Labor Research 18 (1997): 137-150.

    L. C. Steelman, B. Powell, and R. M. Carini, “Do Teacher Unions Hinder Educational Performance? Lessons Learned from State SAT and ACT Scores,” Harvard Educational Review 70 (2000): 437-466.

  5. thenofunzone

    “Economists may know methodology, but they don;t know jack about how schools operate or what test scores mean.” Pot meet kettle:

    R.W. Eberts: PhD in Economics from Northwestern University in 1978 (does not currently hold an academic appointment; previously taught at Oregon)
    J.A. Stone: PhD in Economics from Michigan State 1997 (W.E. Miner Professor of Economics at the University of Oregon)
    L.M. Argys: PhD in Economics from Colorado Boulder 1993 (Professor, UC-Denver)
    D.I. Reese: PhD in Economics from Cornell University (Professor, UC-Denver)
    M. Milkman: PhD in Economics from Oregon 1989 (Associate Professor of Economics Murray State Univ… umm where?)
    L.C. Steelman: Professor of Sociology South Carolina
    B. Powell: Professor of Sociology Indiana University
    R.M. Carini: PhD Sociology Indiana University 2003 (Associate Professor Univ. of Louisville)

    So other than your last article all of those were published by labor economists. Labor economists that I might add have far weaker C.V.’s, publication records, and academic appointments.

    Terry Moe: William Bennett Munro Professor of Political Science, Stanford University (Endowed Professor at USNEWS Top 3 Consensus University)
    Caroline Minter Hoxby: Scott and Donya Bommer Professor in Economics (Endowed Professor at USNEWS Top 3 Consensus University)

    Now, how about QJE vs ILRR, JAI Press? Wtf is that? Journal of Labor Research, and the Harvard Ed Review. A little work on the Google and you’ll find that ILRR is far far far below QJE.

    Now moving on from the prestige debate… you reject the idea that high school graduation rates, dropouts, college going rates – these are not good dependent variables because they aren’t test scores/achievement? I always thought we cared about test scores/achievement because success on those were linked to graduating from high school and college? Semantics. Clearly we all want lower dropout rates and its a completely reasonable measure for Hoxby’s DV… yeah I don’t think that they had NAEP broken out by states back in the 1970s when unions first started

    Now onto a charge you make that if you weren’t being disingenuous I’d have a little more sympathy for. You write: “Not one article that addressed the relationship between the existence of unions and student achievement.”

    The Moe piece is savvy on this regard because it shows how inflexible teacher contracts that restrict the principal’s authority over hiring/firing/pay policies (e.g. things like seniority-based transfers) have a harmful affect on growth in student achievement. You can’t just hide behind the crap reply that …”unions are not restrictiveness.”

    1. First of all just on the face that’s ridiculous. What percentage of local teacher unions sit down at the negotiating table and say that the principal should have maximum flexibility on these issues including letting go of seniority based transfers and using teacher quality as the deciding factor? So clearly unions are pushing for more restrictive not less restrictive contracts.

    2. If you don’t believe that, there is research, on its way to being published (its forthcoming) that links stronger teacher unions (as measured by school board members in a district ranking the teacher’s union as the leading interest group in board elections) with more restrictive contracts. Clearly powerful unions = restrictive contracts.

    Strunk, Katharine O., and Jason A. Grissom. Do Strong Unions Shape District Policies? Collective Bargaining, Teacher Contract Restrictiveness and the Political Power of Teachers’ Unions. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, in press.

    I await your reply.

  6. thenofunzone

    hahahahah that’s it? that’s all you have to say after i absolutely crushed you by tracing the fact that the majority of your own cited articles were done by economists after you bashed economists? wow, i expected more from you big boy. quite the intellectual light weight evidently.

    all you can do is chide my last cite because it’s in an education journal? first of all, i only presented that article in the event that you actually were going to try and argue that strong unions try and negotiate contracts that give principals maximum flexibility… something anyone would laugh at on face value. i didn’t even need to cite it. of course that kind of work is in an education journal! it’s not a question about economics in the same way that the education production function is a question of economics. both authors went to stanford by the way (again TOP 3 baby TOP 3).

    Billy answer me this: do you really think, that on average, strong teacher unions attempt to negotiate contracts that give school leaders maximum autonomy on pay/firing/hiring/transfers?

    It’s a simple YES or NO question. On average… not in every case, but MOST OF THE TIME. Which is it. If you answer NO and admit that most union locals push to retain seniority rights, the salary schedule, maximum job protection from the principal’s evaluation that your argument falls apart regarding the impact of unions on student achievement… Why? Because we already have you on record in this thread agreeing with Terry Moe that restrictive contracts are bad for kids.

    So don’t duck. Don’t dodge. Just answer the simple question this time. Your lack of an answer will be evidence that I won this argument by the way.

  7. Billy Bob

    The preponderance of the refereed articles on the issue side with me. Yes or no? Its a simple question.

  8. thenofunzone

    so you think study counting is a good way to assess what the research says on a subject? yes or no? its the number of studies not quality of placement in a journal?

    one again ill take QJE and Stanford over yours!

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