Two Charters: One OK, the Other Not

Traditional public schools sharing space, when available, with charter schools simply makes economic sense. For the New York City teachers’ union, however, that only applies if the charter school is unionized. Find out more about the "blatant hypocrisy."

Eva Moskowitz put New York City’s teachers union in its place this week.

The founder of numerous successful charter schools in the city called out the United Federation of Teachers on the blatant hypocrisy of the union’s opposition to traditional public schools collocating with charter schools.

Moskowitz cites a recent UFT article online that contends Moskowitz’s Success Academy is limiting the growth of Public School 241 in Harlem by sharing the building with the school.

“Nonsense,” Moskowitz wrote. “PS 241 has 113 students – averaging just 19 per grade. Its building was built to serve 1,136 students. It has 61.5 classrooms, almost one per every two PS 241 students.

“With collocation, PS 241 has been allocated 13 rooms. That means it has nine students per room on average. PS 241 could grow by a third and easily fit within its current room allocation. However, just the opposite has been happening.

“PS 241 has shrunk in recent years from 952 students to 113. That is not because of space but because parents have many educational options in Harlem these days, including many charter schools.”

If the misleading UFT story wasn’t bad enough, Moskowitz points out that there are actually two charter schools that operate out of the same building as Harlem’s PS 241, but only the Success Academy is the target of union attacks.

There’s a good reason why, and it says a lot about the UFT’s true priorities.

“Curiously, the UFT article doesn’t mention the other charter school sharing space with PS 241: Opportunity Charter School. Why? After all, if both schools take PS 241’s space, why is only one wrong for doing so? The answer: Opportunity’s teachers are UFT members.

“In fact, the UFT never objects to space-sharing by schools, whether charter or district, whose teachers are unionized. The UFT itself even runs two charter schools that share public school space. Talk about hypocrisy.”

Moskowitz explains that the UFT is lobbying to give parents whose children attend traditional public schools the right to refuse to share space with charter schools. It’s a political ploy that would allow the UFT to exploit teachers’ intimate connection with students and their parents to limit competition from non-union schools.

The union is already taking advantage of that relationship, Moskowitz said, citing a middle school teacher who “assigned all of her middle school students to write an essay about how they could protest Success Academy’s collocation with their school.”

All of the dirty union tricks point to one clear but troubling conclusion.

“Obviously, the UFT’s opposition isn’t about the needs of students,” Moskowitz wrote in the Daily News. “They just don’t want there to be schools whose teachers choose not to be unionized, since that model threatens the UFT’s flow of union dues.

“The UFT wants to use public school buildings, built at taxpayer expense, to advance its own interests.”

Union Misdeeds, Part I: Teachers Sacrifice Their Own

It appears from two recent stories that some unions should take an oath of "do no harm" to their own members. In Maryland, veteran teachers resorted to extreme measures to earn a 1% pay raise — at the expense of the jobs of their colleagues with little or no seniority. The Education Action Group asserts:

The Harford County (Maryland) school board has agreed to eliminate the jobs of 72 teachers and administrators in order to fund one percent raises for veteran members of the local teachers union.
    
“Although our teachers undoubtedly deserve a fair pay raise, this proposal also comes with a cost—the loss of both administrative and teaching positions,” County Executive David Craig said in a statement, according to BelAirPatch.com.
   
One percent is not enough for one union member.
   
“I appreciate with my whole heart the step that you all have made today, but one percent is $20 that doesn’t fill my gas tank to go to work,” Amy Childs told board members, according to ExploreHarford.com.
   
Of course, that won’t be an issue for the 72 employees who soon won’t be traveling any farther than their couch each morning.
   
Even though the wage agreement is a bad deal for the community as a whole, board members likely felt pressured to approve it. Harford teachers have been picketing for the past two weeks, as well as conducting a “work to rule” campaign, in which teachers limit “their duties and activities to only those specifically required as part of their contract,” Examiner.com reports.
   
Harford teachers refused to “volunteer at lunchtime or, beyond the school day to tutor students or, run extra-curricular clubs and activities. Teachers did not enter school until the start of their contractual time and left immediately after their contracted day was over,” the news site reports.
   
So the veteran teachers had a tantrum and got their way. Their raise will mean fewer teachers and larger class sizes for students, but hey, what do they matter?
   
Needless to say, the layoffs will mostly affect younger employees with little seniority. They may be union brothers and sisters when times are good, but when there’s only so many dollars to go around, older teachers are happy to eat their young.
   
We wonder if the union would have pushed for the raise/layoff deal if the school board had the right to choose which teachers were laid off, regardless of seniority?  Probably not.