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.