New study: Charter schools that unionize hold real benefit for students

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by Brian Washington

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“It just makes sense.” That’s what Lynn Kameny said when Education Votes told her about a new study that concludes unionization in charter schools “positively impacts student achievement”.

Kameny, an English teacher at the Alameda Community Learning Center, a California charter school covering grades six through twelve, suggests it’s because educators who teach at charter schools with a union have a strong collective voice.

“As a member of a charter school with a union, because my union protects my right to have a voice in the classroom, I feel I can advocate for my students without fear of job reprisal,” said Kameny. “That’s a pretty big factor.”

The study looked at several charter schools in California. The authors of the study, entitled Teachers’ Unions and School Performance Evidence from California Charter Schools, concluded the following:

The main results of our analyses are thus that unionization in charter schools positively affects student achievement in math, but has a smaller and statistically insignificant impact on English achievement.

The study also found that “unionization benefits the learning of students with low levels of achievement the most.”

We asked Kameny for an example of how educator unionization impacts students. She described how math teachers at her charter school, Alameda Community Learning Center, located between San Francisco and Oakland, used their collective voice to ensure the school did what was best for student learning.

“They have been able to advocate for a math curriculum that they feel will be a good support for students moving forward,” said Kameny. “And they were able to do that without having to worry about how this might compromise their ability to teach here.”

Charter schools receive public funding but operate independently, in many cases, by for-profit companies.

Educators nationwide, including the 3 million members who make up the National Education Association, believe that charter schools should be held to the same standards and accountability measures as traditional public schools and authorized by local school boards to ensure they remain responsive to the communities they serve.

On a side note, the federal government just announced $253 million in charter school grants to be shared among the following states: Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wisconsin.

TAKE ACTION: Tell lawmakers it’s time for tougher standards and more accountability for charter schools.

Reader Comments

  1. Unions in public enterprises are a bit of an enigma. They was a time and place where there was a need but in many cases unions have over stayed their welcome. Now, unions tend to exert control over working issues that permeate into the work itself and cause degradation of the ability of leaders to manage the organization. And then, in many cases the so-called leadership is ill equipped to manage, let alone lead.

    Public education needs a thorough upside down tip and shake. There is a lot right and a lot wrong.

    Probably the most significant issue is people accepting teaching positions that offer too little pay and then feel they are oppressed by their system. The reaction is predictable: complaining, work slowdowns, payments to political organizations.

  2. All I can say is thank God, we’re not listed as one of the schools that good old Betsy is planning on taking over. We already had one round of her “charter schools” here in her home state of Michigan, and they only lasted 6 months – why? Because no one enrolled their kids in these schools. We now have “schools of choice” which means you can enroll your child in any school in the district (of which there are 6). We have a brand new junior high and a brand new high school. The DeVoses own Michigan. They choose our governor, they tried to take over our schools and, basically, they’re disgusting. And, she’s not just interested in taking over your school system, she plans to defund all the public schools in your area to force you to go to her “charter” schools.

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