United Teachers Los Angeles has decided that instead of fighting charter schools they'd rather chase their teachers. "We have come to the realization that we need to look at organizing teachers at charter schools," said UTLA President A.J. Duffy. Steve Barr, whom we admire for his gutsy leadership of Green Dot Public Schools, and whose teachers already belong to the California Teachers Association, sees this as a positive development. "As relationships start to come together between the unions and unionized charters, the people that will be left out of the equation are non-unionized charters," he said. "The charter movement is more stubborn about these kinds of relationships than the unions are." Stubborn for good and sufficient reason, we think. A big part of what separates charters from district schools is their freedom from red tape, including the encumbrances of a zillion-clause collective bargaining contract. Charter school principals can, among other things, hire and fire teachers as they see fit. It's hard to picture the unions agreeing to that. If UTLA wants to start its own charter schools, like New York City's United Federation of Teachers, fine. But it should leave the others alone.
"Union Targets Charter Schools," by Naush Boghossian, Los Angeles Daily News, June 10, 2007