Monday, May 04, 2009

KIPP Teachers Forced to Fight for Freedom

Today's New York Post has a column by Ryan Sager (here) on the effort by teachers at KIPP Academy in the Bronx and KIPP Infinity in Manhattan to decertify membership from the United Federation of Teachers, the union representing teachers in New York City. The issue is to be decided by the state Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) which has petitions signed by every teacher in both schools seeking to drop UFT membership. PERB's hearing on the matter occurred last week.

In March the teachers from both schools issued a joint statement announcing its intentions to decertify. Nary a peep was heard from the UFT in reaction. The same UFT shouts from the rooftops with press releases when teachers decide to join its union. Instead, the UFT is arguing before PERB to block the decertification effort at KIPP, even as its Edwise blog insults those teachers by claiming they somehow were organized by KIPP management, as though grown-up faculty can't make their own decisions.

Interestingly, the KIPP teachers decided this move last March -- before the UFT-NYSUT supported funding freeze on charter schools was adopted in the state budget. That anti-charter move is all the more reason to drop membership from any kind of union taking such a harmful position.

If the "freedom of assembly" means anything in the state and federal constitutions, PERB must honor the requests of these teachers to "assemble" apart from the UFT. That UFT refuses to accept the wishes of KIPP teachers is shameful, and a typical, unceasing power-play.

Peter Murphy
for The Chalkboard

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