Growth of charter schools attracts teacher unions seeking to organize

April 21, 2009
Some teachers want union protection; others don't want to be burdened with excessive regulations

From The New York Times: As the number of charter schools in New York City and elsewhere swells, unions have become increasingly aggressive in trying to organize teachers at charter schools. These two major forces in education politics, having long faced off in ideological opposition, have begun in some places to enter tentative and cautious partnerships, and in others to engage in fierce combat. Some of the most adamant supporters of charter schools say that the union is trying to stymie their growth by seeking increased regulations; union leaders, on the other hand, say they are trying to ensure that teachers are given fair pay and clear guidelines for how and why they could be dismissed.

From FEBRUARY 2009: A move to create a union at one of New York City’s leading charter schools may turn into a protracted battle, as the deadline has passed for the school, KIPP AMP in Brooklyn, to voluntarily recognize the union. The United Federation of Teachers, which is seeking to represent the teachers, now must file for recognition with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board, which will most likely give the school’s administration several days to respond.
Read The New York Times article.

EARLIER: When the United Federation of Teachers announced last month that it had collected enough signatures to unionize the the KIPP AMP charter school in Brooklyn, N.Y., Dave Levin, KIPP’s co-founder and New York superintendent, said he was willing to work with the union and was optimistic things would proceed smoothly. But in the weeks since, several teachers said in interviews, the atmosphere at the school has grown increasingly tense, with administrators making veiled threats about the effect of creating a union.Read The New York Times article.

FROM JANUARY 2009: The United Federation of Teachers says it has organized teachers at two New York City charter schools, making inroads in a movement that has long sold itself as an alternative that is not hamstrung by union contracts and work rules. Union officials say the teachers’ decision is an important step because the schools are part of the Knowledge Is Power Program, known as KIPP, which plays an influential role in national education debates. Advocates for charter schools express concern that unionization could undermine the schools’ effectiveness.
Read The New York Times article.

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