Tuesday, May 19, 2009

We're public! No we're private!

No, I don't think so

Are charter schools public or private entities? For years charter school lobbyists have argued that charter schools are public schools--even those run by private management companies. Chicago charter cheerleaders at INCS for example, are sure to call them "charter public schools" in every reference. After all, they are publicly funded and chartered by public agencies.

But that's all changed now that a majority of teachers at Civitas charters operated by Chicago International have signed union cards. In an attempt to block teachers from unionizing, charter operators around the country are now claiming that they are private.

I guess Civitas will have to redo their web page before the courts rule.


Take note: the union busters at Civitas don't mind calling themselves public in order to receive millions of dollars in extra funding from the likes of Gates, Walton, and Searle foundations.


  1. Thanks for talking about the distinction. Important as entrepreneurs like Barr run roughshod over LAUSD in the guise of a "reformer." Like the blog...V

  2. Cal,
    Thanks for the comment. But is Barr really "running roughshod" over LAUSD? Aren't Green Dot charters unionized?

  3. Yes, I would say that watering down union rights (e.g., abolishing tenure) and paying board members to spy constitutes running roughshod.

  4. The fundamental union right is not tenure, but the right to collectively bargain a contract. The Green Dot teachers are represented through the California Teachers Association, the largest teacher union in the state. The contract they have was negotiated with Green Dot representatives and union reps at the table. That's the union right I have. That's the union right the teachers at the Civitas charters in Chicago want. It's a big deal.

  5. Tenure is a right enjoyed by teachers in LAUSD. After a barrage of anti-teacher/union publicity in the LA Times and the court order prohibiting our walkout, LA teachers feel under siege. It's not a matter of getting what we want, but of keeping what we fought so hard to gain.

  6. Interesting discussion. Is there anything in the Green Dot-CTA contract that protects teachers from being fired unfairly? Isn't that what this is really about? What do you mean by "tenure", Cal Father? I ask because I've seen tenure used to keep minorities out of the skilled trades where I worked. You know, last hired, first fired.

  7. Article 31 of the Green Dot contract states that “there shall be no layoffs during the current school year unless mutually agreed upon” and are based on “length of service” in the absence of substantial distinguishing differences.

    I'll bet LAUSD teachers wish they had that article in their contract.

  8. The situation may vary from state to state. In Illinois, tenure rights are not contractual, but statutory. The law allows for the release of a teacher without cause for the first four years of employment. Seniority rights, on the other hand, are bargained. Seniority rights usually include the last hired, first fired clause.

  9. Cal,

    I think the point is that Green Dot teachers helped write and negotiate that contract after UTLA leaders refused them membership as Green Dot teachers. Now of course, AFT and NEA are out organizing charter school teachers in New York, Chicago and other districts. It's about time. So rather than Green Dot "running roughshod" over LAUSD, I would argue that UTLA missed the boat on the reform movement around Locke and let down their own teachers who demanded change and who were then picked up by CTA. That whole struggle is probably what motivated Duffy and the UTLA leaders to get out and organize--which it seems they did last week.

  10. Mike,

    Thanks for the response.

    I would just hate to have a corporation take over my school, fire me, then pressure me to sign a watered down contract if I were lucky enough to get hired back. I wouldn’t feel part of a movement. I would feel screwed.



Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.