Are Charter School Unions Worth the Bargain?
Despite its reputation, the charter field isn’t a wholly anti-union stronghold. In fact, 12 percent of charter schools now have bargaining agreements. (Conversion charters are much more likely to be unionized [44 percent] than startups [9 percent].) In this new CRPE report, Mitch Price analyzes the union contracts of nine of the nation’s 604 unionized charters and compares them to their local district contracts. He finds that, on average, charters’ union contracts are more flexible when it comes to length of day and year, grievance processes, and layoff criteria—but still far too rigid. (Using our own Leadership Limbo criteria, Price gives charter contracts a C-plus score, compared to the C-minus score given to district schools.) While union contracts in the charter sector are relatively flexible—more tailored to individual school needs (and thus less likely to stifle the missions of these schools)—Price argues that we are only seeing their beta versions. It remains to be seen whether these contracts, when renegotiated, will serve as examples of reasonable labor relations practices or will instead grow more restrictive.
Mitch Price, Are Charter School Unions Worth the Bargain? (Center for Reinventing Public Education, Seattle, WA, November 2011).
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