Black parents are fighting the teachers’ union for the right to send their children to non-union charter schools, writes Nat Hentoff in the Village Voice.
Geoffrey Canada, whose Harlem Children’s Zone is nationally known for making charter schools a working part of the community, recently sent out a rallying cry to black parents everywhere when he said, “Nobody’s coming. Nobody is going to save our children. You have to save your own children.”
In Harlem, where thousands of parents apply for charter schools on civil rights grounds, State Senator Bill Perkins—whose civil liberties record I’ve previously praised in this column—is in danger of losing his seat because of his fierce opposition to charter schools.
The state AFL-CIO has declared that a vote in the state legislature to expand the number of charter schools is anti-union, Hentoff writes. “The Working Families Party, financially backed by the United Federation of Teachers and the state teachers’ union, has a litmus test for candidates seeking its support—will they back strict limitations on charter schools?”
As a union man since I organized my first union at 15 during the so-called Great Depression at a Boston candy store that employed students on nights and weekends—and then helped unionize radio station WMEX in Boston where I became shop steward—I am plain disgusted at the low point that the union crusade against charter schools has reached.
. . . My question to leaders of organized labor (including the other big national union, the National Education Association): Are these black parents stupid or so gullible that, seeing so many other parents mobilizing for charter schools, they go with the crowd?
Twenty percent of Harlem students are enrolled in charter schools, Hentoff writes. Thousands more are on waiting lists. Charter students’ scores are higher.
Who lost Hentoff? Eduwonk asks.