For the past six months, education experts have speculated at length about the role of teachers unions after the Supreme Court decision in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
Some argue that the inability to charge all teachers agency fees, even if they don’t join the union, will force the unions to focus more on the needs of teachers and less on influencing election results. Others suggest that to attract new members the unions will need to highlight and increase the professional development opportunities– continuing education, technology training, leadership conferences, etc.– that they offer.
While the loss of agency fees may hurt teachers unions in the short term, it clearly presents an opportunity for them to reinvent themselves, to evolve and find their place in 21st century education systems.
In Minnesota, two local union leaders have spent the better part of the last decade doing just that. In 2011, Louise Sundin and Lynn Nordgren helped form The Minnesota Guild of Public Charter Schools, a union-backed charter school authorizer created to oversee schools that promote teacher leadership and professionalism.
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