Tom Mooney Institute: Fordham Findings A Flop

The late Tom Mooney, former President of the Ohio Federation of Teachers.

Much noise has been made regarding the recent release of The Fordham Foundation’s “Leadership Limbo” (PDF) report. The lengthy document, commissioned by the Ohio-based charter-school sponsoring foundation examines at length the teacher union contracts of the 50 largest school districts in the country, grading them based on the premise that current school Superintendents and administrators need less restrictive contract language based around the areas of compensation, personnel decisions and work rules.

Read more after the jump below. 

The Tom Mooney Institute for Teacher and Union Leadership (TMITUL) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping emerging teacher leaders. It has recently posted a response to the publication, saying in part:

“The Fordham thesis – that if principals had autonomy, as they presumably do in charter schools, then schools would be fixed – is also not supported by the comparative research on charter school results relative to regular public schools. While some charters do a fine job, on average charters do no better, even a bit worse. So looking at the impact of labor agreements through the one simple prism of the extent to which they inhibit unilateral management discretion makes this study fall short.”

Indeed, the report virtually ignores the positive, collaboration that has enabled teacher unions to engage in groundbreaking work to help create labor/ management structures as well as educator capacity that will increase student learning. The authors of the “Leadership Limbo” instead choose to downgrade the important work that has been done so far by advancing the singular idea that teacher union contracts are obstacles to education reform that must be revised, rewritten or removed in order to give management the unilateral upper hand to institude a sweeping wave of top-down education reform that will prove to be the salvation of the American educational system.

TMITUL acknowledges the importance of the topic, but in plain language admonishes the structure, research and conclusions of the report, saying:


“This study addresses a worthy topic, badly, and does an injustice to teacher union leaders who are working to make the collective bargaining process useful to improving schools and the teaching profession. “

The United Federation of Teachers’ Edwize blog has revived the spirit of Al Shanker and put up a thoughtful post on the inadequacies of the Fordham report.