Chicago Teacher Union Turns to Charters

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As we have said before, teacher union officials are finding it difficult to keep members now that they are protected by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation-won Janus case.   For years teacher union officials across the country have repudiated charter schools for one reason or another.  Now Chicago Teacher Union officials are turning to charter schools for more power and forced dues.  (Private charter school employees are not covered under state public sector laws, or the Janus decision, which applies only to public sector workers.

Andrew Broy has the story in the 74million.org.

The Chicago Teachers Union is trying its best to pull a bait-and-switch on Chicago’s charter public school teachers. After years of working to stop charter public schools from opening and demeaning the hard work of charter school teachers, the union is trying a new role on for size: advocate for charter public school teachers.

This may seem like a curious position for the union to take, given its years of animosity toward charter public schools. But upon closer examination, it makes sense. For years, the union tried to undermine charter public schools by attacking them rhetorically and spreading lies about their enrollment and academic performance. But that effort failed. Parents saw through the misinformation campaign; charters have grown to serve 56,000 Chicago students and are more popular than ever among the city’s parents.

Now, rather than trying to weaken charters from the outside, the union has turned to an approach pioneered by the Greeks in Troy. It’s trying to position itself as an advocate for the very people it has worked to undermine for years — charter public school teachers.

The end game, according to the union, is “for all charter teachers in Chicago to be part of the CTU,” leading to the same restrictive contracts that prevent progress in public school generally. With these contracts in place, charter schools could be forced to lay off non-teaching positions like social workers and counselors to pay for mandatory step-and-raise salary increases, shorten their school day to adhere to restrictive contracts and make their curriculum less innovative.

As charter public charter school teachers read about a potential charter school strike in the Chicago, here are three things they should know about the union and its actions:

  1. The union lobbied aggressively against fair funding for charter school students for years.
  2. The union has publicly campaigned against many charter schools, including schools it now claims to represent.
  3. The union has admitted that dues for charter teachers would likely rise after they joined the union. 

In today’s political climate, it’s more important than ever to consider what our leaders do, not what they say. I hope charter public school teachers will look carefully at the union’s actions over the past 10 years before deciding whether to call it an advocate for their interests.

Andrew Broy, a former public school teacher and civil rights lawyer, is president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, a group that supports and advocates on behalf of Illinois charter public schools.