Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Drama in Williamsburg part II

Chris and I discussed this, and we concluded that the incident doesn't just show why charter schools need unions -- it shows why people need unions. Disclosure: both Chris and I have worked for unions. But the point is, when you have a union contract, there are clear and fair channels for being fired.

The Chalkboard doesn't think that "all charters need unions just because of one dude who seems to be on an ego trip." I disagree. Charter school leaders tend to be very strong personalities who decide to open schools because they think they know how best to run a school. For a lot of these leaders, not wanting to have unionized teachers is as much about cost saving as it is about not having another entity that teachers can report to. I know people like this, and my sources tell me that the WCS school leaders are of that type.

Chris says that this incident is why mandatory unions in charter schools are necessary. He says that unless businesses (like schools) are forced to have unions, you are always going to have things like this that are just not reported. The state should say you have to have unions, and if the teachers in a charter school want to negotiate their own contract they should be able to do that.

If the school's charter is revoked, it's going to be really bad for a lot of kids. I know that's what everyone says whenever this happens, but still. Also, there is a serious dearth of charter high schools in New York City. There are a lot of other good options for high schoolers here, but at this late date these kids are going to end up at their crappy neighborhood schools.

UPDATE: Ed at the AFT makes a good point here. Scroll down to the Update.


NYC Educator said...

I agree that charters need unions. I've been on the fence about charters, but if they were unionized, I'd have no problem supporting them.

No story illustrates it more clearly than this one.

NYC Educator said...

Do you know if non-unionized charter teachers have health benefits?

I can't seem to get an answer to that.

julie said...

I don't know if there is a rule. I do know non-unionized charter school teachers who do get health benefits.

NYC Educator said...

Joe at the Chalkboard mentioned that some charters pay more than UFT teachers get. That's a good argument, and I read Moskowitz boasting of how she paid 5K more.

I've no doubt her teachers will pay for it in time. But if they're not getting health benefits, they're really getting considerably less. And they ought to, as city workers, get what city workers get.

NYC Educator said...

In case you're interested, Ed at the AFT says charters are not required to offer health benefits in NY, but that most do. He also says that they do not compare with the what their public school counterparts get. A charter teacher emailed me and told me the same thing.

julie said...

Thanks for the update! That's a really interesting point, because that's probably where a lot of charter schools save a lot of money.