NYT’s Sam Dillon takes a look at the state of play on charter schools and teachers’ unions. It’s a useful check-in and overview for those who don’t follow this closely. But two things do jump out.
First, if Sam doesn’t bury the lede he at least shovels some top soil on it:
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called the gains of the past year “a precursor.” You’re going to see far more union representation in charter schools,” Ms. Weingarten said. “We had a group of schools that were basically unorganized, groups of teachers wanting a voice, a union willing to start organizing them, and now money in our organizing budget to back that up. And all of that has come together in the last 6 to 12 months.”
That’s sort of key to all this, no? The unionization drive that’s going on now isn’t some spontaneous thing, it’s an organized effort! Nothing wrong with that, and kudos to Weingarten for being upfront, but it’s nuance that matters to understanding what’s happening out there. I’m no media critic but isn’t the lede here the unprecedented effort the teachers’ unions are undertaking to do this?
Second, Dillon writes that, “The largest teachers union, the National Education Association, has no national charter organizing campaign. But some of its state affiliates have helped charters unionize.”
That’s true, as far as it goes. But, if you’re keeping score at home the NEA did not so long ago have a big charter initiative, they were going to start some, etc…it was an enormous debacle, that’s why (a) you don’t hear much about it now and (b) Randi Weingarten’s various charter initiatives are significant on a couple of levels.
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Now is a great time for teachers and unions to start their own charters so as to provide the best possible education for students and to expand the rights of teachers in regard to curriculum and instruction and other professional issues. With charter schools, teachers can run the whole show.
Perhaps it was difficult a few years ago for the unions to start their own charters but now they have the backing of President Obama, who is encouraging teachers and their organizations to innovate. It will be a shame if teachers get left behind in this charter movement that is picking up speed across the country. (Where teachers fear to tread, you can be certain Wall Street will step in.) This is their opportunity to be at the forefront of educational reform and to design the schools that are best for children (i.e. goodbye to drilling on the exact items on high-stakes tests). It is also a great opportunity for the unions to become the professional organizations that they wanted to be, but were prevented by law from being, at their inception.
Go, Teachers, and best of luck to you! You are the people who deliver 100% of the formal instruction to our children so you deserve a big promotion!
Get over it Andrew. Yes, charter school teachers are finally demanding what every other working person in America supposedly has–collective bargaining rights. And yes, the AFT is supporting their organizing efforts (for a change). But don’t let it get you down. There’s still Mississippi, the Carolina’s, Texas and Louisiana where unions won’t exist for years to come, and you can still get teachers to work 16-hour days and be fired at will, for half of a N.Y salary.
It’s kinda unfortunate to find these nice recipes here. I’ve been walking everyday just so I can enjoy food without gaining too much. It’s hard to do portion control when you get treats like these. Jeez…
Things are Changing…