Teachers, Unions, and the Implementation of Change
Collective action of teachers and their unions is assumed to be a powerful weapon, amongst the most formidable opponents of school reforms. The analytical literature on policy reforms considers them as classic examples of self-interested actors, who work together only to protect their vested interests and demand mainly higher wages. However, the empirical evidence on state-teacher relationships, and how unions have acted during the course of reform implementation in Andhra and Bihar, is counterintuitive. Andhra has a very competitive and vibrant presence of a number of teacher unions, with units at the state and district level. The State acted politically in negotiating with the largest Panchayati Raj Teachers Union, whose main demand was for government status, not higher wages. In the process, state gained the support of teachers for implementing new policies. Collaborative strategies were helpful for unions as well (in gaining the allegiance of existing members) and this was a disincentive to colliding with the state. Bihar was a contrast with one union the Bihar Rajya Prathmik Shikshak Sangh holding monopoly control, and disinterested in negotiating with the state on teacher issues.
Keywords: teacher unions, teacher policies, Bihar Rajya Prathmik Shikshak Sangh, state-union relation, collaborative strategies, para-teachers, contract teachers, inter-union competition, partisan affiliation
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