The Akron Education Association recently successfully sued the Akron, Ohio school district in order to block students from accessing tutoring. The union’s lawsuit forced the district to cancel a $156,000 state-funded contract for 2,400 60-minute one-on-one tutoring sessions for struggling students.

The union defended the power play by claiming that tutoring threatens and outsources union members’ jobs. So, how well are Akron’s unionized educators doing their jobs? The majority of the district’s 20,000 students are not proficient in English Language Arts (ELA) or math. The longer students spend in district classrooms, the worse they perform. Math proficiency rates in Akron progressively nosedive:

  • Fourth Grade: 42.8%
  • Fifth Grade: 30.0%
  • Sixth Grade: 21.2%
  • Seventh Grade: 18.0%
  • Eighth Grade: 12.5%

The tutoring contract would have provided reading tutoring for struggling fourth graders. Even though over 63% of Akron’s fourth graders can’t read at grade level, the union’s lawsuit blocks the district from hiring any outside tutoring service. 

According to local media reports, members of the community were eager for tutoring. Cynthia Blake, whose granddaughter is an Akron Public Schools student, said tutoring, “would be a great help for my granddaughter who is struggling and needs the help… my daughter has an outside tutor and is picking up extra shifts at her job to pay for the tutoring.” Local pastor Gregory Harrison told the school board, “When students can’t read, we give them no chance.”

Union leaders should listen to Rev. Harrison: “Help them read. Are the students failing in school, or are the schools failing the students?” To learn more about how teachers unions fail students, watch or read IWF Education Freedom Center director Ginny Gentles’ recent congressional testimony and listen to the Students Over System podcast episode, “Corey DeAngelis: Funding Students And Exposing Radical Teachers Unions.”

For more information about teachers unions, check out the IWF Education Freedom Center