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September 2014 Policy Study, Number 14-5


Terry Moe's Special Interest: Teachers Unions and America's Public Schools





[1] Steven Brill, “The Rubber Room: The Battle over New York City’s Worst Teachers,” New Yorker, August 31, 2009.  Except where noted, my account follows Brill.  To protect the confidentiality of individual teachers, I have substituted fictitious names for real names.
[2] See, for example, Erin Einhorn, “Teachers in Trouble Spending Years in ‘Rubber Room’ Limbo that Costs $65M,” New York Daily News, May 4, 2008; Angela Montefinise and Melissa Klein, “Why is the City Paying 757 People to Do Nothing?” New York Post, September 30, 2007.
[3] See, for example, Daniel Weisberg, Susan Sexton, Jennifer Mulhern, and David Keeling, “The Widget Effect: Our National Failure to Acknowledge and Act on Differences in Teacher Effectiveness” (New York: New Teacher Project, 2009), available at
[4] Quote is from Greg Toppo, “Democrats, Teachers Unions Now Divided on Many Issues,” USA Today, September 2, 2008.
[5] See, for example, Caroline M. Hoxby, “What Has Changed and What Has Not,” in Our Schools and Our Future, edited by Paul E. Peterson (Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 2003); Sean Corcoran, William Evans, and Robert Schwab, “Changing Labor Market Opportunities for Women and the Quality of Teachers, 1957-1992,” NBER Working Paper 9180 (Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research, 2002); Caroline M. Hoxby and Andrew Leigh, “Pulled Away or Pushed Out?  Explaining the Decline of Teacher Aptitude in the United States,” American Economic Review 94, no. 2 (May 2004): 236-40; Eric A. Hanushek and Steven Rivkin, “Teacher Quality,” in Handbook of the Economics of Education, edited by Eric A. Hanushek and Finis Welch, pp. 1051-78 (Amsterdam: North-Holland, 2006).
[6] Hanushek and Rivkin, “Teacher Quality”; Brian A. Jacob and Lars Lefgren, “The Impact of Teacher Training on Student Achievement: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from School Reform Efforts in Chicago,” Journal of Human Resources 39, no. 1 (2004): 50-79; Eric A. Hanushek, John F. Kain, Daniel M. O’Brien, and Steven Rivkin, “The Market for Teacher Quality,” NBER Working Paper 11154 (Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research, February 2005).  For evidence of positive teacher-pay effects on student outcomes (although the data are aggregated to the state level), see Susanna Loeb and Marianne Page, “Examining the Link between Teacher Wages and Student Outcomes: The Importance of Alternative Labor Market Opportunities and Non-Pecuniary Variation,” Review of Economics and Statistics 82, no. 3 (2000): 393-408.  But see also Dale Ballou and Michael Podgursky, Teacher Pay and Teacher Quality (Kalamazoo, Mich.: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 1997).




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