Monday, April 20, 2009

Chicago charter school teachers choose union

It's a growing trend in charter schools: as the private, for-profit companies that operate charter schools proliferate, faculty and staff seek the protection of union membership.

Charter schools were originally envisioned as laboratories for new educational strategies that could be used in other public schools.They have become, for some, the preferred method of reforming public education.

The idea was that many of the rules of the education bureaucracy would be suspended so that the charter schools could experiment with new techniques. In Louisiana, charter schools must be under the auspices of school districts or non-profit organizations, but the holders of the charters are free to subcontract the operations of the school to for-profit providers.

This has led, as previously reported in EdLog (here and here), to a proliferation of for-profit schools masquerading as public, charter schools.

As this article by Angela Caputo in Progress Illinois demonstrates, a "lack of accountability and transparency has generated mistrust among teachers, parents, and school reform advocates alike" in Chicago's charter schools.

As the current recession demonstrated, it is necessary to place reasonable regulations on private enterprise - with just a couple of keystrokes, "private" can become "pirate." That is as true of education as it is of finance.

And one of the best safeguards of human dignity and workers' rights is the union. Which explains the trend toward unionism in charter schools.

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