Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chicago charter school teachers organize

AFT president Randi Weingarten flew into Chicago to voice the national union's support for teachers trying to unionize three Chicago International Charter Schools. If recognized by the state, they'll be the first unionized charter school teachers in Chicago. (Chi-Town Daily) (WBEZ) (Russo)


Neocon Jay Greene from the Manhattan Institute, writes in today's WSJ, "The Union War on Charter Schools," that he's panicked at the very thought of collective-bargaining rights for charter teachers:
Unions are also seeking to strangle charter schools with red tape. New York already has the "card check" unionization procedure for teachers that replaces secret ballots with public arm-twisting. And the teachers unions appear to have collected enough cards to unionize the teachers at two highly successful charter schools in New York City. If unions force charters to enter into collective bargaining, one can only imagine how those schools will be able to maintain the flexible work rules that allow them to succeed.
And he bashes Obama/Duncan for not helping:
President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have given speeches promoting charter schools. Despite their talk, charter spending constituted less than one-quarter of 1% of education spending in the stimulus package. And the Obama administration has done union bidding by killing the D.C. voucher program.


  1. If unions force charters to enter into collective bargaining, one can only imagine how those schools will be able to maintain the flexible work rules that allow them to succeed.

    Translation: How are we going to get teachers to work 16-hour days for pennies if they join unions. What does collective bargaining have to do with flexible work rules? Many teachers work above and beyond what is required in the contract. They just want to be paid fairly.

  2. check this old article out - from 16 years ago! this "movement" started out with such a different vision than what's dominant these days (green dot, kipp, etc.). it was so much more about creating choices/options that worked better for kids vs. controlling/trying to socially engineer their time & their futures. but so much of the battle hasn't changed (finding the "right" people/fits, etc.). fascinating...

  3. Thanks Lisa. Great points. Here's the NYT article for those who had trouble pulling it up:

    June 19, 1993
    Theme Schools Face Hurdles In Opening

    As they race to open more than 30 small experimental public schools in the fall, New York City educators say they are grappling with an array of difficulties -- from hiring directors to finding buildings to signing up students.

    Four of the 37 small new schools will not open in September as originally planned, school officials said yesterday. All four will instead open in the fall of 1994.

    Despite the setbacks, however, several senior education officials, including the state Education Commissioner, Thomas Sobol, and the president of the New York City Board of Education, Carol A. Gresser, said yesterday that they believed the movement to create smaller, theme-based schools was still gaining momentum. Smaller High Schools

    The comments were made at a news conference held at Central Park East Secondary School at Madison Avenue and 106th Street. The news conference was held to draw attention to efforts to open six small high schools at various locations in Manhattan this fall as part of a plan to phase out Julia Richman High School, where only about one student in three now graduates.

    "These schools are part of a broader initiative by the New York City public schools to create smaller and personalized new high schools," Mrs. Gresser said. "They will provide safe and caring environments in which all students can be known well. They set a direction for effective school reform in New York City for years to come."

    Ms. Gresser and another school board member, Ninfa Segarra, also announced their support for plans to replicate the Julia Richman experiment, by creating six small high schools in the Bronx in the fall of 1994 as part of an effort to replace one of the borough's failing high schools. The high school has not yet been designated.

    For more than two decades, isolated pioneers have been experimenting with small schools as alternatives to the hundreds of colossal, factory-like elementary and high schools operated by New York City. Schools Chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez gave crucial support to their efforts, and earlier this year the Board of Education approved plans to open 37 of the new schools this fall. Resembling a Corporate Office

    The 37 schools, like the High School for Economics and Finance with its site planned to resemble a corporate office, were all designed with curriculums centered on separate themes. Most were developed in partnerships between the board and unions, colleges, neighborhood groups and even some churches.

    As a group, the new schools represent one of the largest expansions of the city's public school system in decades. Not surprisingly, some of them have run into problems.

    "There's a lot that goes into starting a new school, from finding people and space and equipment to developing a curriculum, and it all has to be done in a relatively short period," said Beth Lief, executive director of the Fund for New York City Public Education, an education organization that is raising money and working to get 14 of the new schools started.

    "This is the most exciting project I've ever been involved in, but it takes a tremendous amount of hard work." Organizers of the Health Opportunities Collaborative High School, which was to immerse students in a health-related curriculum with projects in hospitals and clinics, were forced to postpone the school's opening for a year because the proposed site, a converted gymnasium at Lehman College, was unavailable, and the director hired to run the school backed out.

    The director originally picked to run the Museum School in Manhattan also backed out, forcing postponement of the opening of that school, which was to make use of the resources of the Museum of Natural History and several other museums.

    Organizers of the Brooklyn School for Global Citizenship, who planned to turn Brooklyn into an urban laboratory this fall with a curriculum centered on the borough's immigrant communities, postponed their plans after protests from parents at a junior high school whose vacant classrooms they had hoped to use. School Within a School

    The inauguration of the Andrew Jackson High School Magnet School, which was to open this fall as a new high school within a high school in Queens, has also been postponed a year. "That one never really got off the ground," said James S. Vlasto, a spokesman for the Board of Education.

    Because the board only approved plans for the new schools in March, a catalog explaining to parents and students how to sign up was issued late, complicating enrollment, Mr. Vlasto said. But more than 4,400 students have now applied for the 3,300 seats that will be available in the new schools this fall, he said.

    Though organizers of all the new schools have been racing against a tight schedule, most have hired project directors and teachers, found classroom space, and are well along in the development of their curriculums, Stanley S. Litow, the deputy chancellor for operations, said at the news conference.

    Deborah Meier, a prize-winning principal who pioneered several of the city's first small alternative public schools in the 1970's, is a coordinator of the effort to phase out Julia Richman High School. She said it has not been easy to find buildings, hire teachers and make all the other arrangements for the six new schools. But she said she was sure all the toil would pay off this fall.

    "I'm confident that these schools will provide a superb educational environment," Ms. Meier said.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.