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UFT organizes a KIPP school

January 14, 2009 am31 2:53 am

Charter schools are mostly unorganized. The “charter movement” is mostly an anti-union movement. And “privately operated public schools” don’t match the idea most of us have in mind when we speak of public schools.

How are we going to break into other charter chains?

There are sharp differences among teacher unionists about how to cope with charter schools. My union, the UFT, set up 2 unionized charter schools a few years back (I can’t remember how I voted on authorizing this – I probably abstained as my gut said it was a bad idea, but didn’t want to deny them the chance to try).

This is a victory, and it belongs to all of us!

In Philadelphia, in Chicago, in New Orleans, around the country, there is concern about a growing non-union teaching workforce, and charters are central to those discussions.

Let’s brace ourselves. There will be a fierce barrage directed at teachers for daring to seek to act and speak collectively

So one place that we agree is that charter schools need to be organized. Another point, we know that they are hard to organize. In many cases the operators are fiercely anti-union. They propagandize freely against unions, and fire teachers who seek to act in concert with other teachers. And in many cases the schools are small, and developing union consciousness is harder in small workplaces.

So today the teachers at the KIPP school in Brooklyn cracked one of the toughest nuts. It’s a breakthrough, huge.

  1. Deep breath. We won something. And it wasn’t just outside agitators (as much as I love them). This was teachers organizing themselves.
  2. Study. Figure out what we did right. How are we going to get another KIPP school. And the one after that. How are we going to break into other charter chains?
  3. Brace ourselves. The anti-union, chartercrats and their paid theoreticians are going to be apopletic. There will be a fierce barrage directed at the KIPP teachers who signed up, for daring to seek to act and speak collectively, and their will be worse thrown at the UFT for daring to assist teachers in standing up.

But for today, congratulations to every teacher, in the KIPP school in Bushwick, in any school in NYC, in any school in the country. This is a victory, and it belongs to all of us!

(Read the official version at Edwize)

12 Comments leave one →
  1. mary permalink
    January 14, 2009 am31 7:33 am 7:33 am

    KIPP should shut down the school.

  2. Huh? permalink
    January 14, 2009 am31 7:49 am 7:49 am

    I think KIPP pays its teachers more than any other school in NYC. These teachers just voluntarily signed up for a huge pay cut. Do they really even understand what they did?

  3. KMTMB permalink
    January 14, 2009 am31 8:44 am 8:44 am

    Mary: Your comment seems to indicate displeasure with this turn of events. It should be cause for reflection.

    Huh?: The devil is in the details. This post only gave us general information. Past articles about KIPP schools indicated that the hours are longer and include weekends as well as higher pay.

    Before we jump to any conclusions, pro or con, why not research what the teachers were trying to achieve. The resulting dialog would be lively and based on facts.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    January 14, 2009 pm31 6:16 pm 6:16 pm

    Any complaints generally made about teacher unions don’t apply here because any contract agreement will be starting from scratch. The New York City contract might be used as a template, but would not legally apply. Tenure, overtime, work assignments, vacation, sick days, insurance would have to be agreed upon.

    An interesting question just came up for me: are charter school teachers forbidden to strike under the Taylor law?

    Mary, from a humane point of view, you might as well have said send all those teachers to Guantanamo. Your comment was that offensive.

  5. January 17, 2009 am31 2:06 am 2:06 am


    This blog is really about tenure, which is related to organizing charter schools.

    My teacher’s intuition tells me that the DOE will try to buy an extension of tenure by offering us (UFT) a raise. A raise that we could probably get without making any changes to tenure. Remember a union with more members on probation will be weaker, much weaker! They (DOE) will attempt to divide the UFT by age and experience, which sadly is a very effective strategy. I have spoken to senior teachers (12 years plus) and most would consider a deal like this. Am I being paranoid? Well they voted to drastically change tenure in Washington D.C. in exchange for money. The superintendent was declared a “Hero Reformer”, and was rewarded with a Time Magazine cover. I want my union to pro-active, not re-active. Please read the article about the Greenburg, New York teacher being denied tenure at the end of this e-mail.

    I also recently read a rather disturbing article in Newsweek that was written by Jon Alter titled “Bill Gates Goes to School”. One particularly disconcerting passage follows: “Gates argues that rigorous accountability is the only option, from mayoral control (elected school boards are mostly a menace) to principal control (teacher tenure and onerous work rules are quality-killers) to data control (IT systems that closely track performance are a must).” Say what? I thought media people who appeared on Countdown with Keith O were supposed to be pro-labor types. Oh well! Who is on our side exactly??????


    January 9, 2009

    Former Greenburgh teacher says he was fired for being ‘too white’

    Ernie Garcia
    The Journal News

    GREENBURGH – A former Woodlands High School English teacher is suing the Greenburgh school district, claiming he was denied tenure there because he was “too white.”

    Edward Donnelly alleges in his federal lawsuit that a school employee in the Greenburgh Central 7 School District told him that Assistant Principal Will Washington disliked Donnelly for racial reasons. Washington is black.

    Donnelly, a resident of Fairfield County in Connecticut, also claims that district officials unfairly used absences due to his gall bladder surgery against him when evaluating his performance as a teacher.

    Donnelly filed his lawsuit Dec. 12 in U.S District Court in White Plains. He wants his job back, along with punitive and compensatory damages for the tenure denial.

    On Wednesday, his attorney, William D. Frumkin, said there was considerable circumstantial evidence that Washington had conspired with Woodlands High School Principal Robert Chakar and former Assistant Superintendent Hasna Muhammad to give Donnelly negative evaluations near the end of his three-year probationary period.

    The court filings allege that school officials based Donnelly’s negative evaluations on his medical absences, while another black teacher with poor performance remains employed by the district.

    In his first two years of employment, Donnelly claims, he received “satisfactory” evaluations. Teachers in the Greenburgh district can receive three possible designations: satisfactory, unsatisfactory or needs improvement.

    Greenburgh Superintendent Ron Smalls said he was not aware of complaints by Woodlands teachers about racial discrimination. Smalls said he was aware of Donnelly’s lawsuit, but declined to discuss it.

    John Schlechty, a labor relations specialist at the New York State United Teachers who is assigned to work with the Greenburgh Federation of Teachers, said he was not familiar with Donnelly’s lawsuit, but that he recalled his resignation.

    Schlechty said Donnelly’s allegation of race discrimination has been made by only one other Woodlands High School teacher recently. In January 2008, a black teacher filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

    That teacher, who he did not identify, also named Washington and Muhammad in the complaint, said Schlechty.

    As a matter of policy, the EEOC does not comment about discrimination complaints unless it takes legal action.

    Schlechty said Greenburgh teachers have a three-year probationary period, adding that district officials could terminate a teacher instead of granting tenure, even if the educator has good performance records.

    However, Schlechty said terminating a teacher for an unavoidable medical leave could trigger a discrimination lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act

    • January 17, 2009 am31 11:56 am 11:56 am

      Without knowing more, I’d defer to the NYSUT guy.

    • anonymous permalink
      July 17, 2009 am31 6:49 am 6:49 am

      As a former employee of Greenburgh, this situation does not surprise me. I would advise anyone who was thinking about working there to think twice.

  6. January 17, 2009 pm31 6:05 pm 6:05 pm

    I’m also not really comfortable promoting a “reverse discrimination” lawsuit without knowing much much more. I don’t understand why you posted the article.

  7. Anonymous permalink
    January 18, 2009 pm31 8:18 pm 8:18 pm

    To show how important tenure is.

  8. Anonymous permalink
    January 19, 2009 pm31 6:59 pm 6:59 pm

    In charter schools you might make more money, but if they are not orginized then you have no real job security.


  1. Comments on union victory at KIPP Brooklyn. « Fred Klonsky’s blog
  2. KIPP AMP Organizing Draws Wide Notice | Edwize

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