Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Teachers at Charter Schools Beginning to Form Unions

The New York Times had an interesting article last week about charter school teachers beginning to unionize.

I find the arguments against unions here extremely weak. You don't want teachers of terrible quality? Then hire competent teachers, and set up (with the teachers' union) a system of evaluating teaching performances so that truly awful teachers lose their jobs. And I just don't see (nor do opponents of the unions explain) how unionization restricts freedom to innovate (one of the supposed benefits of charter schools) or "raise achievement."

Meanwhile, the benefits seem overwhelmingly important. Not being able to fire teachers at will, regardless of performance (and let's not pretend that some firings are driven by personal conflict or politics)? Fine. Giving charter school teachers better pay, instead of treating them like the adjuncts of primary and secondary education? Great. Reducing turnover rates in schools' faculty? Sounds good. Letting teachers have a little more input in the curriculum? I fail to see how letting the actual pedagogues have a say in the pedagogical experience could be a bad thing.

I hope this is something that can spread across charter schools throughout the country, either through local unions or a national organization. Giving teachers in these schools basic labor rights (like the ability to keep your job and make a decent wage) is a basic right, regardless of the structure of the school. Now, if only adjunct professors could start getting better rights and protection...