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These hybrid schools are blowing up the public education model

First group of Chicago charter schools unionized

A couple of press people from the 1.4 million member American Federation of Teachers came into the conference’s newsroom to let us know that a group of Chicago charter schools have voted, after a protracted battle with their administrators, to unionize. Union representatives are not among the more well-represented groups here at the National Charter School’ Conference, but perhaps they will be one distant day.

Administrators of the newly unionized Civitas charter school group in Chicago had argued that the school was a private employer in order to try to prevent the teachers from forming a union under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board. Because charter schools are quasi-public entities–they are largely publicly-funded but privately-run–the Civitas fight may occur in other places where charters’ status is ambiguous and unionization of teachers is contentious.

Charter schools and teachers unions have not been best friends, generally because the central structure of unions are viewed by many in the charter movement as constraining flexibility of an individual school. Recently, though, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, has made forays into the charter school world.

In New York, teachers at the KIPP AMP school became a collective bargaining unit back in April. Green Dot, a well-known charter school network in Los Angeles, has unionized teachers. But there have also been fallouts. KIPP Infnity in New York recently seceded from the United Federation of Teachers, the other main teachers’ union.

The News 21 team in New Orleans is looking at the young teacher corps in New Orleans, largely made up of teaching organizations like Teach for America. These two-year teacher programs are not geared to create teachers’ union members, especially among those who get placed in charter schools. However, high teacher turnover and burnout is a concern at charter schools like KIPP and is one of the reasons that KIPP AMP teachers in New York formed a union. We’ll keep our eye on what these new teachers mean for the unions and whether they can reinvent the wheel on the relationship between teachers and administrators .

Filed Under: National Charter Schools Conference CoverageWashington, D.C.


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  3. [...] of the big pro-charter groups is called the Democrats for Education Reform. Though there have been some alliances between unions and charter school teachers, the people in this room are saying that charter school advocates usually find that politicians who [...]

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