If the decline of Catholic schools is disturbing trend number one, this is disturbing trend numero dos: highly celebrated and successful charter schools being unionized. Just a few weeks back, teachers at two KIPP schools in New York announced that they would unionize. Now teachers at the Los Angeles Accelerated School, (ironically) chosen by TIME Magazine as the 2001's elementary school of the year for being free of "red tape that often chokes other institutions," have offered the figurative olive branch to United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA). Bad news. The problem is that the staffing decisions and long hours common to charter schools are part of their model--and key to their success. Unionization, at least when accompanied by thick, burdensome collective bargaining agreements (UTLA's is "phone book sized," according to the LA Times), typically inhibits the very things that make charter schools, well, charters, and these particularly successful schools, well, successful. Although we're convinced unions and charters mix like oil and water, it may be just wishful thinking to hope this trend goes the way of big Wall Street bonuses.
"L.A. charter staff reaches out to teachers union," by Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2009