Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Charter School Unionized Teachers Speak Out - Against NYSUT

Today's Buffalo News has a superb article by teachers from the Charter School for Applied Technologies (CSAT) that calls on the New York State United Teachers to support charter schools. Teachers in this charter school, located in the town of Tonawanda just over Buffalo's northern boundary, are NYSUT members, as are most of the unionized faculty in twenty or so charter schools across the state.

Teacher co-authors Ann Morgante, Neil Shanahan, Christine Twarozek and Nicole Killion are fed up with NYSUT's opposition to charters and aren't buying the union's rhetorical double-talk which they recently observed by NYSUT president Richard Iannuzzi last month in the Buffalo News. The same day that Iannuzzi appeared before the newspaper's editorial board, he also visited his membership at the Charter School for Applied Technologies, which has nearly 90 percent of its students coming from neighboring Buffalo.

The teachers were not amused by reading Iannuzzi's negative remarks on charter schools in the Buffalo News the following day.

Charter school unionized teachers take note: the CSAT faculty is holding its union accountable for its anti-charter school positions in the state Capitol in Albany, and in the media. CSAT teachers were particularly stung when last February its leadership publicly called on NYSUT to stand down on its position to cut the charter school funding formula -- and were summarily ignored. NYSUT subsequently got the state legislature to freeze the formula, which cost CSAT alone more than $2 million.

These teachers are exposing the reality that NYSUT has not properly represented competing district and charter teachers especially since the union does more than collective negotiations -- it has lobbied state government for its district members at the expense of its much smaller charter membership.

Unionized charter school teachers should follow the lead of their colleagues at CSAT and publicly demand political support from NYSUT and its largest local, New York City's UFT, especially during the state budget deliberations. The union is supposed to work for teachers that they organized in charters, not the other way around.

As long as teachers keep this as an internal discussion and accept private assurances or obey orders from their union, they will lose out. Many charter teachers got burned last year. They shouldn't let it happen again, and CSAT's faculty is showing the way.

Peter Murphy
for The Chalkboard

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