Monday, March 02, 2015

Unions And Charter Schools Don't Mix

Teachers unions don't like charter schools.  Charter schools, so the story goes, siphon off the "best and brightest and most well-behaved" and leave public schools with the leftovers (tell your public school students that they're mere leftovers, and see how well that goes over).  Also, charter school teachers need not be unionized, and that is the real problem the teachers unions have.

Attacking charter schools has not gone over well with the public so unions tried a different tack--let's run our own charter schools!  Free from silly administrative requirements, and free to do what we know is right, we'll have all our students going to Stanford (or singing the Internationale, one or the other).  That didn't work so well in West Sacramento, where a charter school run by the UC Davis school of education was recommended for closure by the California Charter Schools Association due to the poor performance of its students!  I wrote about that just over a year ago, and a comment at that link mentions a school run and eventually shut down by Stanford.

So imagine my (lack of) surprise when I read that the same thing is happening in New York City:
Running a charter school is harder than the United Federation of Teachers thought. The New York City union will close its failing charter school’s elementary and middle school, but ask for authority to continue its high school.

“When the school opened in 2005, then-UFT President Randi Weingarten said its success would demonstrate that unions could play a starring role in efforts to improve the school system,” write Geoff Decker and Sarah Darville on Chalkbeat NY. Weingarten also hoped to show that a union contract was not an “impediment to success.”

The UFT Charter School has been one of the lowest-performing charters in the city.
I'll be they have a lot of excuses, though, of the "those tests don't reflect what our students really know" variety.

Randi Weingarten is now president of the national-level American Federation of Teachers.  Given how wrong Weingarten was about her union's ability to run a school--remember, it's "one of the lowest-performing charters in the city"--what might we conclude in general about unions, faddish pedagogy, and student performance?

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