Framing the debate over teacher unions

William C. Smith

Abstract


The power of teacher unions in the U.S. has waned since the 2010 mid-term elections.  The convergence of business conservatism and teacher accountability ideologies has led to an intense targeting of public teacher unions as a problem, both economically and educationally.  Using the target audience framework of Schneider and Ingram (1993), I break down the framing used in the present anti-union movement and explore a local example of anti-union legislation in Pennsylvania.  The analysis reveals a socially constructed dichotomy in which victimized children are pitted against greedy teachers.  To stem this wave of anti-unionism, teacher unions must recognize their position as public contenders and rearticulate their message using child-first rhetoric.

Keywords


teacher unions, policy rhetoric, target audiences

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The Mid-Atlantic Education Review is a publication of the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.