The New York Times published an interesting piece on charter schools:
Charter schools, which are publicly financed but managed by groups separate from school districts, have been a mainstay of the education reform movement and widely embraced by parents. Because most of the nation’s 4,600 charter schools operate without unions, they have been freer to innovate, their advocates say, allowing them to lengthen the class day, dismiss underperforming teachers at will, and experiment with merit pay and other changes that are often banned by work rules governing traditional public schools.
“Charter schools have been too successful for the unions to ignore,” said Elizabeth D. Purvis, executive director of the Chicago International Charter School, where teachers voted last month to unionize 3 of its 12 campuses.
But if charter schools have been so successful, why unionize them? Don’t fix whats not broken.
The standard argument generally admits the success of charter schools but contends that teachers lose bargaining power over their employers. A union, they argue, would correct this apparent problem.
If teachers felt this way, however, they would leave their charter school positions and teach in standard public schools. This is not occurring at any major scale. What is occurring is the freedom to choose. Teachers can choose to work under a unionized public school system or a non-unionized charter school system. This is the best arrangement.
Under this system teachers in the non-unionized charter schools get paid by merit, while teachers in the unionized public schools get paid by seniority. This is the tragedy of public education.
What can ultimately be gained from the partial unionization of charter schools is a case study. Will students perform better under unionized or non-unionized charter schools? That we will see. Hopefully the focus will remain on how students perform, not on how teachers feels. That concern has destroyed public education in the United States.