Other parts are more interesting: how much the school spends on board meetings, number of students who return to their districts, number of teachers returning to the school each year, and a list of all non-public sources of funding.
Charter schools are public schools, so this information is ripe for inspection. (The Chalkboard would be interested in some of this information as well, particularly to compare the cost of charter school board meetings with district Board of Education meetings.) Who knows what NYSUT – right now the biggest obstacle for the expansion of charter schools – will want to do with the information.
It would seem the two most obvious options for NYSUT would be to (1) use the worst information they can find as a hit-piece on charter schools, or (2) use the information to begin the process of more actively organizing charter school teachers. (The Chalkboard isn’t opposed to union shops in charter schools, particularly if charter schools aren’t treating teachers more like professionals than the local public school district does.)
There is also a third option: they could use the information for both (1) and (2) at the same time. Recent happenings at the national level suggest NYSUT could be planning to both fight fronts simultaneously. Mike Antonucci’s EIA Communique from last week notes (see Item 3) that American Federation of Teachers officers met recently to try to figure out what the heck to do about all these charter schools that are popping up everywhere. The union apparently will seek to further regulate charters at the local, state, and federal levels while simultaneously attempting to organize charter schools themselves, according to its house organ newsletter.
This union strategy makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Unions are huge businesses and this “if you can’t beat ‘em, then regulate and join ‘em” strategy could ultimately help the union’s membership (and revenues) grow. It particularly makes sense if you think in terms of the unions’ self-interest and the possibility that charters may be on the verge of achieving some sort of critical mass, one where it makes more business sense for the unions (i.e. it’s cheaper) to organize than it is to attempt to completely dismantle them, as has been the case. Hopefully, however, the high-stakes push to make numbers won’t turn charter schools into mirror images of the crappy public schools that reformers are trying to make extinct. (See Philip Livingston Middle School post below.)
Additional note: Remember the tension that exists within the unions on this issue when you consider what the UFT is doing in New York City with its new charter school. Plenty of union members aren’t exactly thrilled that the UFT is entering the charter school movement, regardless of the union leadership’s motivations. The Chalkboard continues to think chartering was an extremely gutsy move by Randi Weingarten and that the children of East New York are better off because they have a choice like the one the union is offering. Hopefully the UFT will help the charter movement better articulate precisely which part of the traditional school bureaucracy it is most happy to have left behind. Check out this update on the union’s new charter school by the Associated Press.
Disclaimer: The Chalkboard is hosted by the New York Charter Schools Association (NYCSA) as a place where members, public education advocates and others can view and respond to informed commentary on timely public education and charter school issues. The views expressed here are not necessarily the official views of the NYCSA, its board, or of any of its individual charter school members. Anyone who claims otherwise is violating the spirit and purpose of this blog. To comment on anything you read here, or to offer tips, advice, comments, or complaints. please contact TheChalkboard.