This timely study represents the most comprehensive analysis of American teacher unions’ strength ever conducted, ranking all fifty states and the District of Columbia according to the power and influence of their state-level unions. To assess union strength, the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now examined thirty-seven different variables across five realms:

1) Resources and Membership

2) Involvement in Politics

3) Scope of Bargaining

4) State Policies

5) Perceived Influence

The study analyzed factors ranging from union membership and revenue to state bargaining laws to campaign contributions, and included such measures such as the alignment between specific state policies and traditional union interests and a unique stakeholder survey. The report sorts the fifty-one jurisdictions into five tiers, ranking their teacher unions from strongest to weakest and providing in-depth profiles of each.

Download the state profiles (Click your state to download):


Tier 1 Strongest

Tier 2 Strong

Tier 3 Average

Tier 4 Weak

Tier 5 Weakest

Hawaii 1 Vermont 11 Massachusetts 21 Kansas 32 Louisiana 42
Oregon 2 Ohio 12 Maine 22 District of Columbia 33 Oklahoma 43
Montana 3 West Virginia 13 Maryland 23 South Dakota 34 Texas 44
Pennsylvania 4 Minnesota 14 North Dakota 24 Colorado 35 Georgia 45
Rhode Island 5 Alaska 15 Nevada 25 Idaho 36 Mississippi 46
California 6 Michigan 16 Nebraska 26 New Mexico 37 Virginia 47
New Jersey 7 Connecticut 17 Iowa 27 Missouri 38 Arkansas 48
Illinois 8 Wisconsin 18 Kentucky 28 Utah 39 South Carolina 49
New York 9 Delaware 19 Wyoming 29 North Carolina 40 Florida 50
Washington 10 Alabama 20 New Hampshire 30 Tennessee 41 Arizona 51
        Indiana 31        

Amber Northern is senior vice president for research at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, where she supervises the Institute’s studies and research staff.  She has published in the areas of educational accountability, principal leadership, teacher quality, and academic standards, among others. Prior to joining Fordham, she served as senior study director at Westat. In that role, she provided evaluation services…

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Janie Scull was the research analyst and production manager at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, where she managed a diverse portfolio of projects and contributed to Fordham’s rich research pipeline. Her publications include Shifting Trends in Special Education (2011) and America’s Best (and Worst) Cities for School Reform (2010). In addition to her research and policy work, Janie directed production of…

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Dara Zeehandelaar Shaw was the national research director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, where she oversaw Fordham’s research pipeline, designs and executed new studies, managed ongoing projects, and conducted quantitative and qualitative research until the beginning of 2017. Her areas of study include education governance and school boards; finance and teacher pensions; policy design and implementation (…

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