"Disruptive" Good When Ed Reformers Use It; Bad When Teachers Use It

In what can only be called an "We told you so, just a matter of time" event, charter teachers disrupted the National Charter School Conference in New Orleans over their ability to form a union.  (You just can't make this stuff up.)  From one of my favorite ed bloggers, EduShuyster:

When is *disruption* not just a super cool buzz word but something that’s actually, well, *disruptive*? 

That would be when teachers at the National Charter Schools Conference in New Orleans ask the CEO of an Ohio charter management organization about firing teachers for trying to organizing a union at his schools—and using taxpayer money to pay the fine when he got caught.

 This went about as well as you might expect. And when security arrived, combing through the crowd for disruptors, that’s when things got really disruptive… 

The backstory is great and includes that one charter group in Cleveland fired teachers who were organizing unfairly and was found guilty by the feds of:
*interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees.* The order, similar to an indictment in a criminal case, also accused I Can of *discriminating in regard to the hire or tenure or terms or conditions of employment, thereby discouraging membership in a labor organization.* I Can founders Marshall Emerson and Jason Stragand, meanwhile, acknowledged that they’d like their schools to remain union free, then paid the $69,000 in backpay they were ordered to pay the fired teachers with tax-payer money.
(I'll note here that Ohio is one of the top poster children for how charters can ruin public education.  The stories coming out of there about corrupt charters are legion.  This one doesn't surprise me at all.)

So what happened?
Charter school teacher and union member Karla Tobar, raised her hand during a session on Charter School Growth Strategies: Start-Up, Growth, and Expansion, and put to I CAN CEO Marshall Emerson a question that went something like this: *that PowerPoint slide you just had up about hiring, working with and retaining good teachers? Um, how do you square that with firing a bunch of them when they tried to organize a union?* 

Unions exist because otherwise management is likely to do everything their way.  And that leaves a group of workers with almost no rights and no security and no input about their job or job conditions.  Apparently some charter teachers are starting to realize this.  


Anonymous said…
Unions exist because otherwise management is likely to do everything their way. And that leaves a group of workers with almost no rights and no security and no input about their job or job conditions.

There are too many good companies to list that are non-unionized and they keep it that way by providing a good working environments along with decent pay and benefits.

Public school teachers are in a unique vocation which needs the security of a union, this is not true of all vocations. A CBA works for both sides, because it (when followed) keeps teachers in the classroom where they're the most useful and insures the working conditions of the union members. The public wants good professional teachers that they can feel safe intrusting their children to, but parents are left out of the creation of contracts and so have lost trust in the process and the unions.

Sometimes unions interfere with an institutions ability to remove problematic employees. There are literally thousands of examples where a school employees actions were questionable and the union blocked the institution from removing the employee only to have the employee go on and later commit inappropriate acts with one or more students. Teacher unions should put students first in any and all decisions made and members need to uphold themselves and others to the highest ethical standards. If SEA and WEA members would hold the leadership and membership more accountable perhaps they could build back the public trust they once had.

2cents, I agree with most of what you said.

My hope would be for the police, teachers, etc. that yes, members are held accountable for their professional activities, give support if those members' skills are lacking and then exit them if not.

You are right; public trust erodes when those responsible for our children's lives and our personal safety are not held to high standards and don't apply those standards.

Anonymous said…
Oh yes .. Ohio

When Cleveland was in the process of spending $800,000 for three years of nearly worthless New Technology High School services, I found that New Tech had been acquired by KnowlegeWorks (a non-profit in Cincinati Ohio)

Here are their current directors

A little research found that the foundation planned on expanding the number of New tech schools from less than 50 to more than 500 as the Feds were planning on enacting programs that would facilitate this 10 fold expansion. There was very little data that showed New Tech services accomplished anything positive.

Non-profit (quite the term) ... Pay your director a salary of $350,000+ per annum. Some directors were paid $200,000 for an average of 10 hours a week work.

No surprise that teachers at non-public schools are being mistreated in Ohio.
KnowledgeWorks and the NewSchools Venture fund are birds of a feather that flock together much to the detriment of public schools and public school teachers.

{No thanks to Susan Enfield, Michael Tolley, Peter Maier, and Steve Sunquist for ignoring relevant data in favor of sales brochure baloney and tossing $800,000 to KnowledgeWorks}

-- Dan Dempsey

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