Collection and Validity of the Data

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy conducted research to determine teacher unionization rates in Michigan's three primary systems of schooling: traditional government schools, charter schools, and private schools.

Data on Michigan's traditional government schools are taken from an August 1998 Mackinac Center study entitled Collective Bargaining: Bringing Education to the Table.1 This study analyzed 583 Michigan school labor contracts and recommended eight major improvements to help teachers, schools, and students. The research conducted for this project provided the information necessary to establish rates of unionization for teachers in traditional government schools.

Data on Michigan's charter school teachers were collected through the chartering agencies of the 139 charter schools currently operating in Michigan. The 22 charter school authorizers include nine public universities, one community college, eight intermediate school districts, and four local school districts.

Data on teacher unionization rates in Michigan private schools were collected from 782 schools, or 73.9 percent of all private schools in Michigan.2 Information was collected through the Michigan Association of Non-public Schools, the Association of Independent Michigan Schools, the Lutheran Schools-Wisconsin Synod, the Michigan Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, and the Michigan Association of Christian Schools. These associations represent a total of 737 private schools in Michigan. An additional 45 independent private schools were surveyed by the Mackinac Center via telephone to determine teacher unionization rates in schools not belonging to any association.

This study draws no conclusions about the unionization rates of teachers in the 26.1 percent of private schools that were not surveyed. The authors did, however, identify and survey those private schools with the greatest potential for teacher unionization (i.e., large and/or nonsectarian schools), and found that none of them were unionized.