Labor: What Do Reform Groups Think About Michigan?**
Asked if they have a position on "right to work" laws like the one that just passed in Michigan, natioanl school reform organizations like DFER, 50CAN, and Stand For Children all said they had no position one way or the other.
I found this interesting but not surprising (except perhaps in the case of DFER, which is nominally Democratic). Education reform groups like to keep focused on a narrow set of education policy issues, and from their perspective asking them about labor issues is like asking them about health care reform or what to do with Syria.
There's also a precedent. As you may recall, the reform groups generally followed the Obama administration's lead and stayed in the background when lawmakers stripped collective bargaining rights from some public employees in Wisconsin two years ago.
The lone exception -- perhaps you won't be surprised -- was the Sacramento-based StudentsFirst, which responded with the following comment via email.
*See SF email and follow-up clarification below.
**SF clarification #2: "We've been clear that we support the right of workers to collectively bargain"
StudentsFirst believes that the debate over collective bargaining is demonstrative of what's wrong with education policy generally - it's focused on the needs and rights of adults instead of what's best for students. Policymakers should focus their efforts instead on the policies that fail to serve students well or enable schools to succeed: bureaucratic inertia, red tape limits on parent choice, seniority-based layoffs, and fiscal irresponsibility. If states put policies in place that elevate the teaching profession, empower parents to make informed decisions for their children, and ensure that officials are held accountable for using resources wisely, school and district leaders can create educational opportunities that enable every student to succeed. That's where our focus should be.
You can read the comment as being in favor of any and all laws that limit collective bargaining or labor influence, and many will do that, or you can read it as some sort of attempt to duck the issue and try and focus everyone on education outcomes.
*UPDATE: StudentsFirst says it also doesn't take any position on right to work.
*UPDATE #2: "We've been clear that we support the right of workers to collectively bargain"