Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Phil Rumore Shows Ethical Side Toward Charter Schools

Union Leaders Disagree on Charter Tactics:
BTF's Phil Rumore & NYSUT's Dick Iannuzzi

Lobbying for [anti-charter] provisions while seeking to organize local charter schools would be "a conflict of interest," [Phil] Rumore said.
-- Buffalo News, Tuesday, Feb. 9th

Buffalo Teachers Federation president, Phil Rumore, has never liked charter schools and has mostly shown no interest in organizing their faculty. This man represents school district teachers and deals with the Buffalo School District superintendent and board of education.

Mr. Rumore also wants the state legislature to mandate provisions that, in my view, are unfavorable to charter schools, including cutting their funding; or are based a lack of understanding of existing requirements of charters. Based on his stance on charter schools, Mr. Rumore correctly views it as "a conflict of interest" to be representing charter school faculty, as he told the Buffalo News (here).

I have made this point repeatedly with respect to the New York State United Teachers trying to organize charter school faculty while working against charter schools' interests in the state legislature. I did so in today's Buffalo News, and often on The Chalkboard (e.g., here). In making this point, my concerns with NYSUT have everything to do with their lobbying positions, and have nothing to do with labor relations at the school level. They are different matters.

With this rare congenniality, just call me, for the moment, Phil Murphy (or Peter Rumore - see here).

The most obvious example of this conflict of interest was NYSUT's successful advocacy for the charter funding freeze last year (here), costing $50 million to charter schools statewide ($10 million in Buffalo). That is money denied for higher teacher pay in charter schools, among other needs. Gov. Paterson has proposed to maintain the charter funding freeze for next year at 2008-09 funding levels. A more recent example of NYSUT's anti-charter school agenda was its attempt to use the Race to the Top program (here) to push state legislation to prevent new charter schools, eliminate SUNY from chartering, and impose new costs on all charter schools.

NYSUT's Ethical Conflict Won't Stop Its Pursuit of Teacher Dues
Unlike Mr. Rumore, NYSUT president, Richard Iannuzzi, has no such ethical conflict when it comes to organizing charter school teachers--and collecting dues from them--while undermining their charter schools' finances and other interests at the state government level in Albany. Instead, he falls back on his straw-man arguments, describing anyone (like me) who questions NYSUT's lobbying behavior as anti-union.

Mr. Iannuzzi's soundbites may appeal to unionized teachers, with rhetoric about "solidarity" and anti-union bogeymen. But teachers should look carefully beyond the charter school building and understand the real conflict NYSUT is perpetrating (or attempting) with their money. The union's activities in the state Capitol are all about advancing school district, not charter interests.

If you don't want to take my word for it, then understand Phil Rumore's point acknowledging the conflict of interest; NYSUT's own words to support the charter funding freeze (which will lead to teacher layoffs); and Mr. Iannuzzi's own op-ed piece in the Buffalo News (Nov. 11th here) - hint: charter teachers are outnumbered and lose out to NYSUT's district interests.

Charter school teachers: take heed.

Peter Murphy
for The Chalkboard
(see me Twitter @ PeterMurphy26)


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