NJ.com reports that unions are increasingly trying to get into charter schools. As a believer that unions are at least partially the problem with American education, I have a real struggle with these efforts.
On the other hand, charter school leaders can hardly be surprised. As charter schools continue to increase in favor, it means that more teachers are in charter schools. It means that there may be fewer teachers in traditional public schools. Either way, it means that the unions have the opportunity to expand and receive more dues for their marketing efforts.
In addition, teachers are free to organize if they do not feel as if they are being supported by their schools. I am not necessarily opposed to allowing organized labor. The organization of teachers in charter schools appears to signal that teachers are unhappy with the work arrangements at their schools. If this is the case, then charter school leaders should blame themselves for their teachers' desire to organize.
The flip side is that charter school teachers may eventually find themselves in need of a job if unionization means that the charter schools end up failing.
I'm also concerned that union leaders will cause charter school leaders to be forced to choose between honoring their mission statements and serving union demands. If this happens, then there will be no reason for charter schools to exist.
I've always wondered if the union desire to move into charter schools had the ulterior motive of eliminating charter schools. Only time will tell.
In the mean time, charter school leaders need to ensure that they are taking measures to:
1. Ensure that they are meeting their goals.
2. Ensure that they are treating their teachers well and as part of the community.
3. Provide strong motivation for teachers to remain independent from the union.
The only reason for teachers to choose a non-union school to a union school is if the non-union environment is perceived as superior to a union environment. Providing that environment rests on the school leaders, including board members.
Charter schools cannot ignore unions who come knocking, but they can provide an environment in which teachers refuse to open the door.