May 12, 2007

Locke and Loaded

The latest episode in the complex relationships among local school districts, charter-school organizers, and teachers unions is the petition of teachers and parents at Los Angeles's Locke High School to have the school converted to charter status under Green Dot. Eduwonk Andy Rotherham picks the United Teachers of Los Angeles quote from down in the article to suggest that union leaders are knee-jerk anti-charter. Dr. Homeslice has a more nuanced reaction: it's the start of a war over the hearts and minds of teachers.  Oops, well, that's not very nuanced, but the substantive stuff buried in the entry is more sophisticated:

The fact that UTLA was unable [to] create alternatives for the teachers of Locke High School to believe in does not bode well for the future of their organization, nor does the fact that they did not have a finger on the pulse of the building to be aware of what was happening.

There are two things going on here: one is the sheer dissatisfaction with the district and union, and the second is charter schools as the outlet for that dissatisfaction. Both will vary over the landscape, and it's important to keep in mind that the Locke petition involves multiple actors and multiple issues. But we can get down to the the issue that Rotherham and Dr. Homeslice are focusing on: Teachers union locals and their affiliates do not have uniform views on charter schools, though none sees them as a panacea. UTLA is not New York's United Federation of Teachers (which runs a charter school), nor is UFT the same as NYSUT (New York's state affiliate), whose leaders again overlap with but are not at all identical with its national affiliate, the AFT.

Yes, there are union leaders who are dead set against charter schools, but there are others who are not. My instinct as an historian is to look for where those differences arise and look to the local context to explain the differences. Any intrepid grad students who want to take that on has a fascinating dissertation topic.

Listen to this article
Posted in Education policy on May 12, 2007 10:53 PM |