Unions Gain Foothold in Chicago Charters
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  • Anthony

    The U.S. needs a more thoroughgoing and systematic approach to educational improvment; charter schools unionized or not do not begin to address systemic reorganization needed in K-12.

  • rheddles

    The way to “keep management in line” is to have investors for whom they must earn a profit and customers who have the right to make a choice. Unions seek to “keep management in line” only to maximize returns to the unions. Ask the automobile industry. Or any other disappeared industry that was unionized in 1955.

  • Terrible development. The AFT and NEA will strangle charter schools with work rules. It’s inevitable and just a matter of time. What’s really needed is a return to the pre-60s ban on public employee unions, but since that barn door opened 50 years ago, there really is little hope for another generation of mostly minority kids in big city districts. Affluent people will do nicely. Private and parochial schools will continue to rescue a few of the most promising poor kids. But no one should make a mistake: If your kids are headed to high school at George Washington HS in upper Manhattan or DeWitt Clinton HS in The Bronx, they’re screwed — and New York City’s “ghetto” schools are by no means the worst in the nation.

    • Corlyss Drinkard

      I have two friends whose daughters are bound and determined to be teachers in the ghetto schools of NYC. I can’t imagine worse career choices for two young white women. At least one of them is a black belt in tae kwon do. The other has already had one nervous breakdown from her first encounter with a ghetto school. All I can do from where I am is pray for them.

  • wigwag

    “…we would prefer a “co-op system” in which the teachers themselves are running the school.” (Via Meadia)

    I admit that the idea sounds good; the pertinent question to ask is whether it’s realistic. Exactly how many industries or businesses can Via Meadia point to where what used to be called “worker self-management” has proven to be a viable business model?

    One need only go back about a quarter century or so to a time when employee stock ownership plans (ESOPS) were all the rage to see that what sounded good in theory didn’t work in practice. Admittedly education was never one of the industries where employee self management was tried, but based on the success that other industries experienced, the idea that teacher coops would work to improve education or improve employee morale seems doubtful. There was a time that many people thought the solution to labor problems in America was to insure union representation on corporate boards; that didn’t work either. If you don’t believe it, just ask Chrysler or American Airlines.

    Teachers for the most part aren’t stupid; they know that if their employers treat them like crap that they have options. One of their best options is to do what federal law empowers them to do; form unions and bargain collectively.

    There is a solution for charter schools and other businesses that don’t want to see union organizers knocking on their doors. It’s simple really; just stop treating your employees like crap. Employees who are treated well, fairly compensated and shown respect by their employers are much less inclined to form unions.

    The take home message to other charter schools from the United Neighborhood Association imbroglio is abundantly obvious; start treating your employees better of deal with the consequences.

    • LivingRock

      “start treating your employees better or deal with the consequences.”

      This just seems so subjective to me. What exactly is treating better in the case teachers? How have teachers been so mistreated that it needs improvement or deal with inevitable unionization?

      If treating better means job protection not based on performance, perpetuating the failed notion of tenured salary increases makes for better teachers, and an obsession with a low teacher to student ratio spreading salary dollars then count me out on treating teachers better.

      To me treating teachers better means developing a dynamic culture where teachers who work hard and get good results are handsomely rewarded, while those whose performance lags are held accountable.

      Paying one good teacher to teach 45 kids the combined salary of three mediocre teachers to teach 15 kids a piece is treating teachers and students better.

      • Well, neither of you are entirely wrong. One of the important aspects of school choice is that by allowing creating destructive, the quality of school management will improve, since schools with bad management will lose out to schools with good management.

        In that case, teacher unions invading charters is a good thing; they’ll kill the badly managed ones. Their function would be to cull, not to fix.

  • Corlyss Drinkard

    What a tragedy for ed reform. The foxes and the skunks are now in the hen house.

  • Charles R Harris

    This is what worries me about charter schools, they are still too closely tied to the school district. I’d much rather see vouchers as they would introduce more variety and competition. If a unionized school can compete, fine. If not, too bad.

  • I don’t support the right of teachers (or any public employees) to set up unions. I think it’s a clear, unarguable disaster.

    I’m not happy with this conclusion, but if anyone has any evidence that education unions can be made to work, I’d be happy to hear it. Frankly, the sheer dysfunction of American union culture is astounding; it’s like they want to die out.

  • And while we’re on the subject of unions, I do wish WRM would express a good deal more skepticism of public employee unions and the need for their existence. Most of these unions didn’t exist until the 1960s, when even state and local governments could hardly be called “sweat shops.” My personal view is that there is no excuse for unions in America at all, period, with the existence of the Labor Dept. which addresses all the legitimate traditional workplace issues more than adequately. There is no legitimate rationale for public employee unions when the unions control who runs for political office and who gets elected in return for sweet heart deals from those same legislators. Even FDR was not so stupid as to endorse the creation of public employee unions, yet his camp followers in the 60s saw fit to create another sector of permanent cash subsidies at the expense of taxpayers. It’s time to stop this insanity and de-certify each and every public employee union in the nation, starting with the National Treasury Employees Union, the largest of the federal employee unions. They are all vipers in the bosom.

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