Mike Klonsky finds it ironic that a charter school would be named for Cesar Chavez, who devoted his life to organizing farm workers in California into a union so they could bargain for higher wages and better working conditions.
As Mike knows, the Walton Family Foundation is currently spending $200 million a year to open new charters, and the Waltons oppose unions. The WFF claims credit for opening one of every four charters in the nation. There are presently more than 6,000 charters, more than 90% non-union.
But the Cesar Chavez Charter School in D.C. will not be one of them.
“A SmallTalk Salute goes out to the teachers and staff at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School at Chavez Prep Middle School in D.C. who voted 31-2 Thursday to unionize, the first time a charter in the District has taken such a step. The educators organized through the District of Columbia Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.
“Staff at the school say they want to unionize to give teachers a voice in decision-making. Jenny Tomlinson, the school librarian, told WAMU in May that staff hoped unionizing would reduce teacher turnover, increase teacher input in the curriculum and attract more experienced teachers.
“If you were listening to Hitting Left on Friday, you heard news of this victory from ChiACTS Pres. Chris Baehrend who was our in-studio guest along with CTU’s Political and Legislative Dir. Stacy Davis Gates. If you missed it, you can still listen to the podcast where our guests discuss the planned merger of ChiACTS and the CTU Local #1. The Chicago Tribune recently referred to Chicago as the “epicenter” of charter school unionization.
“When you think about it, it’s kind of amazing that for all these years, there’s been schools named after the renowned union leader, Cesar Chavez, that resisted unionization and collective bargaining rights for teachers. Detroit’s Cesar Chavez Charter School was unionized back in 2013.
“I’m remembering back 10 years ago, debating with anti-union charter school backers and “choice” advocates. I pointed out back then, the hypocrisy of naming a charter school after a great union organizer like Chavez, where teachers were working without a contract, without a real voice in educational decisions, or without union representation.”
There are now 234 charter schools in the AFT.
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