Unionizing charter schools

Teachers at two KIPP schools in New York City have voted to unionize, reports the New York Times. KIPP teachers earn more than district teachers but work longer hours. It’s common for teachers to burn out.

Several teachers at the two schools — KIPP Amp, a middle school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and KIPP Infinity, a middle school in Harlem — said the union organizing drive came about because they wanted a stronger voice on the job and because the demands on them were so rigorous. They also said that they wanted to insure a fair discipline and evaluation system.

A union contract will hurt the schools, said Jeanne Allen, executive director of the pro-charter Center for Education Reform.

“As long as you have nonessential rules that have more to do with job operations than with student achievement,” she said, “you are going to have a hard time with accomplishing your mission.”

Not necessarily a problem, writes Eduwonk. After all, Green Dot charters in Los Angeles are unionized (though not affiliated with the AFT or NEA).  KIPP Bronx, a district school conversion, is unionized.

What matters is what’s in the contract not unionization per se.

Allen responds:

What KIPP schools are experiencing is the equivalent of a takeover, even disguised as a restructuring, where management will no longer be able to set the tone or culture of their schools.

Flypaper’s Mike Petrilli also thinks this is a big deal.

Core Knowledge has lots o’ links.

Collective bargaining agreements are more flexible than reformers think, concludes the Center on Reinventing Public Education, which studied Washington, California, and Ohio.

Counting retirement and health benefits, teachers are well compensated, writes Rishawn Biddle in Golden Apples. But many teacher pension and health plans are abysmally managed and underfunded.

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  1. tim-10-ber says:

    The teachers knew the requirements and the rigor when they volunteered to be hired by the KIPP schools. This is another way for the ineffective public school administration to destroy a very successful competitor means of education.

    This is a sad day for KIPP…and more importantly this is a very sad day for the students…

  2. Andy Freeman says:

    Many of the commenters on this blog insist that teacher unions try to improve education, yet we see time and time again that the existing unions don’t push for measures that improve education, instead they behave just like ordinary “what’s in it for us” unions.

    Any bets on whether KIPP’s unions will be any different?

    Note – I’m not saying that “what’s in it for us” is wrong. I’m pointing out the error made by the commenters who tell us that teachers unions are different.

  3. So does the invisible hand need a helping hand? If not, then one would think that doing what’s best for oneself would be the best way to help others. No? Perhaps you really meant that teachers are confused and don’t know how to do what’s good for themselves. Where’s that invisible hand when you need it 🙂