This article was originally posted on educationpost.org
Are Charter Schools and Teachers Unions Compatible?
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Oakland blogger Dirk Tillotson wrote a provocative piece suggesting that unions and charters could actually be good for each other. Dirk has worked in both union and non-union charters and remains a strong believer in school choice.
About 12 percent of America’s 6,700 charter schools are unionized. Federal, state and local union affiliates would like to see more of them become unionized. We invited several people to react to Dirk’s piece and share their thoughts on whether unionizing charters will be good for kids.
Eric Lerum, vice president of growth and strategy for America Succeeds, takes a look at the collective bargaining agreements in unionized charters and concludes that some of them look a little too much like standard labor agreements but a few don’t.
Scott Pearson, who is the executive director of the DC Public Charter School Board, is surprisingly open-minded about the idea. Though he has approved dozens of charter proposals, he has never received one that includes unionized teachers.
Maddie Fennell, a former Nebraska Teacher of the Year and a current teaching fellow at the National Education Association (NEA) believes that unions will not only help charters do a better job of supporting teachers, but could help unions change and evolve toward a more professional model.
Kaitlin Pennington and Max Marchitello, senior analysts at Bellwether Education Partners, believe that charters and unions can coexist as long as the teacher contracts don’t inhibit the innovation that is at the heart of the charter experiment.
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