Union charter model

Ryan Sager analyzes the United Federation of Teachers’ proposal for a union-run charter school in Brooklyn, quoting a New York Post editorial. The union charter would provide more time for teacher planning, but no more class time for students. The principal, called “school leader,” would be burdened with even more red tape than normal.

Lastly, many of the most successful charter schools have pursued a back-to-basics approach to curriculum, making use of traditional, as opposed to “progressive,” instructional methods.

UFT President Randi Weingarten has herself been supportive of such an approach and highly critical of the Bloomberg team’s use of the so-called progressive programs.

Yet, for whatever reason, the UFT decided to use relatively “progressive” math and reading curricula. The union, according to sources, essentially admitted its discomfort with its curricula to SUNY’s board and expressed its intention to strengthen the program later.

The union has fought to maintain a 100-school cap on the number of charters in New York; the union charter would take up one of the few remaining slots. However, the proposal has been side-tracked.

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  1. mike from oregon says:

    The word OXYMORON burst into my mind when I read this posting. Two of the many reasons that charter schools were started was to unburden itself from so very many of the union rules and to get back to teaching the basics; drop the ‘progressive’ curriculum which hasn’t panned out. So here we have (and it’s really not a surprise) the union wanting a charter school with union members under union rules (violation of the reason one). Wanting to bring back in that wonderful ‘progressive’ curriculum which has a bad track record (violation of reason two). I’m just glad that it got sidetracked.

  2. SuperSub says:

    The unions have consistently, and rightfully, been painted as being anti-charter school because charters fall outside their realm of influence, the traditional school district.
    This school is merely an attempt to deflect such criticism, and to show that due to their superiority they could do it better.

  3. One nice thing about this proposal is that it helps highlight the issue of the cap on the number of charter schools. The editorial writer opined that the union charter ought to be the one-hundred and first charter, too highlight the cap.

    The problem for the unions is that it’s increasingly clear they can’t just ignore charters but a very public resistance to charters put’s the unions explicitly in opposition to the continued demand for education alternatives by the public.

    The best outcome, for the unions, would be if the public simply lost interest in the issue and the strategy of the union has been to most forcefully oppose what’s seen as most immediately dangerous – vouchers – and take a less aggressive tack on opposition to charters.

    What’s neat is that while the unions have been spending lots of political capital, and cash, on opposition to vouchers, charters have been developing as a serious danger.

  4. Andy Freeman says:

    I disagree with the sentiment expressed by the previous commenters. I think that the teachers union should run at least a couple of charter schools.

    If MiT is correct, the union-run charters will do better than both public schools and other charters. If I’m correct, they’ll do worse than most charters and may even do worse than public schools.

    Yes, I do expect to see efforts to evaluate the union-run charters differently than other charters, but surely MiT will join me in opposing that.

  5. Andy Freeman wrote:

    I think that the teachers union should run at least a couple of charter schools.

    Andy, they already are. The NEA has, or had, I couldn’t find out their current status, five charter schools in various parts of the country. I think the AFT had at least one charter but I’m not sure about that.

    Maybe Mike in Texas has some current information of the performance of the union-run charters?