"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Unions Target Charter Schools

We all know that card check is a way for unions to easily gain new membership (and funding) without all the hassles of having to make a case for unionization to all employees or the messy encumbrance of a secret ballot. Couple this scenario with the teachers union's animosity towards charters and you have the latest tactic in shutting down good charter schools.

This is what happened in Orleans, MA to the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School, one of MA's brightest charter schools. Kyle Olsen reported that a coordinated effort by subgroup of teachers and staff was successful in unionizing the teachers of that school without even notifying all the teachers of what they were trying to do. One teacher wrote, “In fact, a number of employees were not approached at all and found out, quite by accident, that a union had been formed without our input."

Keith Johnson, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, summed up the union strategy in a recent newsletter:

“Organizing charters will strengthen our power and influence as a union. It is reasonable to believe that as more charters are faced with having to be more like traditional public schools in terms of accountability, wages and benefits, due process, and paying into the retirement system, many of them will dry up because now they will not be as profitable, thus not as appealing to those seeking to authorize them.”

Those who think that unionizing the teachers won't have an effect on the day-to-day functioning of the school should look to it's longtime director who resigned upon learning of this development and transferred her own children to a different school.

Olsen said, "In the beginning the unions reacted by fighting the establishment of charter schools. When that didn’t work, they started pressing state governments to cap the number of charter schools. Now that isn’t working, either, so the unions have changed their strategy. Their current goal is to infiltrate charter schools, organize their teachers and change the very nature of the schools."

This tactic is being used in MA, CA, and NY. Tom Gosnell, the President of the American Federation of Teachers-Massachusetts (AFT) said, "[Our mantra is] what's good for kids and for teachers..." His claim is that, with unionization, teachers have a greater collective voice on such issues as class sizes, professional development, and the strengthening of curriculum, along with advantages regarding working conditions, salaries, and benefits.

Some believe that the only way to fight this strategy will be for parents to organize their own school co-ops that cannot be infiltrated by teachers unions. That may be the beginning of the end of public education. But everyone will have to be on guard because that last thing the unions do is work to get legislation passed that outlaws any and all end runs around their entrenched system. Missouri is a fairly homeschool friendly state, but watch for any proposed legislation that would change that indicating a union pre-emptive strike.

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