Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

How teacher’s unions make war on charter schools

Story here in the Wall Street Journal. (H/T The Heritage Foundation and Independent Women’s Forum)

Let’s see what Jay P. Greene has to say about charter schools:

In New York, for example, the unions have backed a new budget that effectively cuts $51.5 million from charter-school funding, even as district-school spending can continue to increase thanks to local taxes and stimulus money that the charters lack. New York charters already receive less money per pupil than their district school counterparts; now they will receive even less.

When I was a young man, I dreamed of becoming a prosecuting attorney or English teacher. (Software engineering was my third choice). But the political activism of left-wing teacher unions, and their opposition to merit-pay, stopped me from becoming a teacher. I always think of unions as a form of adult day-care, insulated from real world competition and consumer needs.

Unions are also seeking to strangle charter schools with red tape. New York already has the “card check” unionization procedure for teachers that replaces secret ballots with public arm-twisting. And the teachers unions appear to have collected enough cards to unionize the teachers at two highly successful charter schools in New York City. If unions force charters to enter into collective bargaining, one can only imagine how those schools will be able to maintain the flexible work rules that allow them to succeed.

…Eva Moskowitz, former chair of the New York City Council education committee and now a charter school operator, has characterized this new push against charters as a “backlash” led by “a union-political-educational complex that is trying to halt progress and put the interests of adults above the interests of children.”

…When charter schools unionize, they become identical to traditional public schools in performance. Unions may say they support charter schools, but they only support charters after they have stripped them of everything that makes charters different from district schools.

And why does school-choice matter?

In New York City, Stanford economist Caroline Hoxby found that students accepted by lottery to charter schools were significantly outpacing the academic progress of their peers who lost the lottery and were forced to return to district schools.

Florida State economist Tim Sass and colleagues found that middle-school students at charters in Florida and Chicago who continued into charter high schools were significantly more likely to graduate and go on to college than their peers who returned to district high schools because charter high schools were not available.

The most telling study is by Harvard economist Tom Kane about charter schools in Boston. It found that students accepted by lottery at independently operated charter schools significantly outperformed students who lost the lottery and returned to district schools. But students accepted by lottery at charters run by the school district with unionized teachers experienced no benefit.

I highly recommend you read the whole article, as Greene is a respected authority on education policy. In case you missed my recent article on Obama’s cancelling of vouchers, check it out here.

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