podcastED: SUFS president Doug Tuthill on reimagining teacher unions

A lifelong educator and former teacher union president, Doug Tuthill has been president of Step Up For Students since August 2008.

On this episode, Tuthill, a former teacher union leader, presents his vision for how teacher unions can evolve in a world with robust education choice opportunity for families who want it.

Tuthill’s 45-year history with public education has convinced him that putting education spending in the hands of families provides a huge opportunity for educators who are keen to create new businesses and teach outside the current district system.

A key necessity, Tuthill maintains, will be for unions to evolve to serve those teachers and help create a healthier public education market.

“For some reason, we take this level of regulation and micromanagement and don’t rebel against it. But as you see now, families are saying, ‘This doesn’t work.’ Education choice is a necessary condition to a create a functional (public education) market. One hundred fifty years of evidence showing a dysfunctional public education market does not create the equity we all aspire to.”


  • Tuthill’s history in teacher union politics and his early 90’s attempts at union reform through a New Unionism concept
  • Changing the ecosystem of public education so it can be more efficient and how teacher unions can reposition themselves as a helpful force
  • Business opportunities for teachers and unions in a decentralized public education world in which parents choose options based on individual need
  • Overregulation of the public education system and the importance of lessening the burden to create more empowerment

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BY reimaginED staff