The head of the city's teachers union is latching onto a recent spate of firings at a Brooklyn charter school to push Albany to make it easier for teachers at charter schools to join the union.
After the Williamsburg Charter School fired three teachers, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, stepped in. She fired off letters yesterday to the school's CEO, to the city's schools chancellor, Joel Klein, and to the state Department of Education.
In a letter to the school, Ms. Weingarten said that she was "appalled" that administrators would terminate the teachers' contracts after they attempted to organize to seek better wages and benefits.
Run as independent schools, charters are free of many of the rules, regulations, and union contracts that govern regular public schools. In New York City, eight of the 47 charter schools operate under union contracts. That includes a school run by the UFT, which opened its own elementary charter school in September and plans to open a middle school in the fall.
An English teacher at the Williamsburg Charter School, Nichole Byrne Lau, contacted the UFT when she was fired earlier this month. A few months earlier she had circulated a copy of the city's pay scale for teachers. While her $50,000 a year salary was on par with teachers at other public schools, several of her colleagues' salaries were not, even though they worked longer days and a longer school year than teachers at regular public schools, Ms. Lau said.
Ms. Lau formed a loose association with the other teachers to discuss how to advocate for higher salaries and benefits like maternity leave.
"When I gave them that scale, they could not believe that they were so underpaid," Ms. Lau said.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Williamsburg charter drama
A big story (I think) at Williamsburg Charter High School. Here's the NY Sun story; commentary later today.