LA Charter Teachers Try to Unionize

In an article featured in the Wall Street Journal, Alliance Teachers’ continue their fight to become unionized.


Alliance College-Ready Public schools are trying to start a campaign that will lead the charter network’s teachers to be apart of the Los Angeles’ largest teachers unions. The network says the lack of a union is prominent reason why 95% of the network’s students go off to college. While Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers union, says that Alliance (and all charter school teachers) should be offered, among other thing, the right to more transparency (charters operate like private institutions).

My Initial Thoughts

The network misses the point. While it’s great that 95% of students go off to college, their teachers, a huge creditor to to this success, are saying that there thoughts, ideas and voices are NOT being heard and the culture is NOT one where they can comfortably express grievances without fearing their job is on the line.

My Biggest Issue with Alliance Teachers Joining the United Teachers Los Angeles

Unions acknowledge the fact that teachers have needs but a 369 page contract is too much and would defeat the purpose of Al Shankners’ vision of charter schools. At the same time, a teacher’s desire to try new content, make insightful curriculum or internal policy suggestions should not be muffled by non-educators who are on the school’s board of directors.

My Opinion

The charter network should work with teachers, UTLA and other independent charter specialists to create a new, independent charter that would find a solution that tries to meet the teachers’ needs and maintain the school’s success rate. It won’t be easy, but, at the very least, it takes the teachers seriously without having to compromise the network’s most effective policies.


A Brief Note on Dana Goldstein’s The Teacher Wars

In Dana Goldstein’s The Teacher Wars, there is an undertone that can be found throughout the book, which makes it’s first appearance in the introduction: “I suspected that the key to understanding the American view of teachers lay with our history and perhaps had something to do with the tension between our sky-high hopes for public education as the vehicle of meritocracy and our perennial unwillingness to fully invest in our public sector, teachers and schools included.”

I strongly agree that this sentiment and read the book through, in part for it’s history, to figure out why we blame teachers so much on a failed system that has more to do with society and corrupt educational institutions as a whole, than teachers themselves. I believe the answer lies in her suggested list of changes in the book’s epilogue. She outlines serval insightful actions that she believes will improve our country’s public education system, among them is the subsection titled “End[ing] Outdated Union Protections.” In short, she advocates for the removal of unsuccessful union policies.

Generally speaking, the public perceives teachers’ unions as entities that only care for teachers’ protections, without regard for the students they teach. Policies such as LIFO, weak tenure qualifications, strong policies against revoking tenure and years-long appeal processes to oust ineffective teachers, certainly put a teacher’s wants/needs above the cost of their students. Unions should be able to protect teachers from irrational and unfair firings and abuses but policies, such as sitting in one of New York City’s infamous Rubber Rooms for three years, is a gross abuse unions. I don’t think that eliminating unions altogether, as most charters schools opt to do, is the answer– educating children is far too complex and has a lot of gray area to do that. But, and I think Dana Goldstein would agree, teachers unions are weighed down with policies that harm the education system. Unions need reform so that policies that are counterproductive to students’ learning.