HITTING LEFT WITH THE KLONSKY BROTHERS

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

'Freedom'--KIPP style

There's not much there there in Jennifer Medina's NYT piece today, "Charter Schools Weigh Freedom Against the Protection of a Union," about the struggle of teachers to gain union representation at the KIPP AMP school in New York. Medina repeats the tired old line of the charter school managers, represented in the headline above, that the struggle is all about unions vs. freedom. Readers will remember D.C. Mayor Fenty's recent quote about "freeing" teachers from the "burden of contracts."

Medina gives us a brief glimpse into what "freedom" means in privately-managed charters like KIPP.
...teachers: suddenly, for example...were required to attend staff development days but they were not allowed to ask questions; they had to submit daily lesson plans but did not get any feedback. Such practices have long raised eyebrows among union supporters worried that charter schools take advantage of young rookies, whose boundless energy fuels them for a couple of years of long hours at low pay but quickly turns into bitter burnout.
I suppose that's one version of "freedom." Maybe Medina means the freedom of KIPP management to fire teachers at will, without due process or to impose 16-hour work days, or to push low-scoring students out in record numbers. Medina never tells us exactly what objectionable rules collective bargaining would impose on KIPP teachers or charter schools in general. She also ignores the relentless, well-financed anti-union campaign being waged by KIPP management and makes it seem like it's just a matter of a few teachers changing their minds about unions, one way or another.

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