Marquette Warrior: Unions Attack Charter Schools

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Unions Attack Charter Schools

It’s well known that unions have strongly opposed private voucher schools. But they have claimed, at least, to like charter schools.

But in reality they don’t like any kind of school choice. From the Wall Street Journal.
On education policy, appeasement is about as ineffective as it is in foreign affairs. Many proponents of school choice, especially Democrats, have tried to appease teachers unions by limiting their support to charter schools while opposing private school vouchers. They hope that by sacrificing vouchers, the unions will spare charter schools from political destruction.

But these reformers are starting to learn that appeasement on vouchers only whets unions appetites for eliminating all meaningful types of choice. With voucher programs facing termination in Washington, D.C., and heavy regulation in Milwaukee, the teachers unions have now set their sights on charter schools. Despite their proclamations about supporting charters, the actions of unions and their allies in state and national politics belie their rhetoric.
The author, Jay Greene, then goes on to detail attacks on charter schools and continues.
Unions are also seeking to strangle charter schools with red tape. New York already has the “card check” unionization procedure for teachers that replaces secret ballots with public arm-twisting. And the teachers unions appear to have collected enough cards to unionize the teachers at two highly successful charter schools in New York City. If unions force charters to enter into collective bargaining, one can only imagine how those schools will be able to maintain the flexible work rules that allow them to succeed.

The highest quality studies have consistently shown that students learn more in charter schools. In New York City, Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby found that students accepted by lottery to charter schools were significantly outpacing the academic progress of their peers who lost the lottery and were forced to return to district schools.

Florida State economist Tim Sass and colleagues found that middle-school students at charters in Florida and Chicago who continued into charter high schools were significantly more likely to graduate and go on to college than their peers who returned to district high schools because charter high schools were not available.

The most telling study is by Harvard economist Tom Kane about charter schools in Boston. It found that students accepted by lottery at independently operated charter schools significantly outperformed students who lost the lottery and returned to district schools. But students accepted by lottery at charters run by the school district with unionized teachers experienced no benefit.

When charter schools unionize, they become identical to traditional public schools in performance. Unions may say they support charter schools, but they only support charters after they have stripped them of everything that makes charters different from district schools.

Vouchers made the world safe for charters by drawing union fire. But now that the unions have the voucher threat under control, charters are in trouble. It’s time for reformers to increase pressure on politicians bending to the will of the unions and close the new education gap -- the one between what Mr. Obama and Mr. Duncan say about education and what they do.
School choice is the issue that shows how little liberals really care about poor children.

They are “pro-poor” if in involves redistributing income from productive citizens to government. They are “pro-poor” if it involves the proliferation of social programs that employ their friends. They are “pro-poor” if it involves more government control of business.

But if helping poor people involves giving more power to parents, and reducing the power of their allies in the teacher’s union and their allies in the bureaucracy, liberals could care less.

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Blogger Tom said...

The Wisconsin Virtual Academy was a charter school staffed entirely by union teachers, yet the union sued to have it closed:

This is one of the many reasons I didn't join the union when I was a public school teacher (even though I still had to pay the dues...). How appalling - using your own members' dues to try to close down their work.

7:15 AM  

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