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"Ravening Tigers" Under Siege: Teacher Union Legitimacy and Institutional Turmoil


by Bruce S. Cooper & Charles Taylor Kerchner — 2003

Teachers—their work, their contributions to society, and their associations—should be easily recognized and legitimated, since teachers are fundamental contributors to the learning of students and act as direct, personal links between children and society. They toil in the field for the benefit of the next generation. Yet teachers’ occupational legitimacy has always been shadowed (Lortie, 1975). While teachers are praised and recognized for their key role in schooling, they and their unions are often blamed for failing to produce acceptable academic and social results. As Finn (2001, p. 127) explained, “American teachers do not get the respect, the freedom, the compensation, or the rewards that many of them deserve. At the same time, U.S. schools are not producing satisfactory results, a problem that is not likely to be solved until our classrooms are filled with excellent teachers.” Legitimacy for teachers—and their work—is now inextricably linked with the actions of their unions.


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This article originally appeared as NSSE Yearbook Vol 102. No. 1.


Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 105 Number 10, 2003, p. 219-248
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 18664, Date Accessed: 10/23/2017 4:08:48 AM

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About the Author
  • Bruce Cooper
    Fordham University
    BRUCE S. COOPER is professor and vice chair, Department of Educational Leadership, Administration and Policy at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Education.
  • Charles Kerchner
    Claremont University
    E-mail Author
    CHARLES TAYLOR KERCHNER is professor of education at the Claremont Graduate University and author of many books and articles on teacher unionization.
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