Teachers at a Cleveland Charter School Organize a Union – for Some Really Big Reasons

UCP

Teacher Jacqueline Lehane with her first grade students.

*These kids deserve amazing teachers and teachers who want to be here and who have the support and resources they need—like we had when we were kids.*

For Jacqueline Lehane, it was the teacher demerit system at her Cleveland charter school that was the last straw. Teachers who’d been heard talking in the hallway, or whose students had been spotted with an untucked shirt, would be called out via an official email entitled *Quick Hits,* on which teachers, school and network administrators were copied. *It’s just public humiliation,* says Lehane, whose *hits* included having a messy classroom after her first graders completed an art project. To Lehane, this top-down shaming was a symbol of everything that was wrong with the school. *Once I even asked a dean, ‘do people who are higher up than you treat you the way you treat us?’*

If all you know about unions is that they are protectors of the status quo, responsible for everything that’s wrong with public education, I’m guessing you have no idea how hard it is to actually organize one. By the time Lehane and her colleagues at the University of Cleveland Preparatory School, part of the I CAN network, voted 18-4 to join the Ohio Federation of Teachers, the teachers had spent two years trying to form a union. Administrators responded, first by attempting to intimidate teachers into changing their minds, then firing the teachers who they’d identified as leading the effort. Seven teachers at the school were fired as punishment—such a clear and blatant act of retaliation that the National Labor Relations Board ordered I CAN to reinstate the teachers and give them full back pay. (I first wrote about their story here.)
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Why the Washington State Supreme Court Ruling Matters

The origins of a surprisingly simple decision that could have major implications…

By Martha Carey
Something unusual happened in Washington state late last week. Charter schools came out on the losing end of a lawsuit. In fact, charter schools, as they are currently defined, funded and organized, were actually ruled unconstitutional by that state’s Supreme Court.  And the basis of that decision was surprisingly simple. The charter school law that narrowly passed Washington in 2012 was found to be in violation of the state’s constitution precisely because charter schools have private boards. Continue reading →

Students in New Orleans Speak Out

Students in New Orleans speak out, and ask some hard questions…

IMG_1120 Early Friday morning students arrived at their schools only to find that it was no regular morning. Pasted on the walls all around the schools were large black & white posters. But these were not your typical posters. These posters had facts, questions, and statistics regarding New Orleans public charter schools and their inhabitants — former students, teachers, principals, and CEOs. Some posters had questions on them that referenced the firing of over 7,000 teachers post-Katrina: *The black math teacher from 2004 who lived in your neighborhood, where are they?* And some questioned the salaries of school principals and administrators compared to the quality of the schools they run: *Your principal makes $100,000 a year, but why is your school only a ‘D’ school?* These are only a few of the many posters that were found at several high schools across the New Orleans area, including Lake Area, Sci Academy, Warren Easton, and Landry Walker. Continue reading →

In Chicago, Hunger Striking to Save a School

Why are Chicago parents on a hunger strike to save a neighborhood school? Because after five years of fighting, they’ve run out of options... 

By Jeanette Taylor-Ramann
IMG_3755What’s happening in Bronzeville isn’t just about Dyett High School. There’s an agenda to push out black and brown low income and working families in the city of Chicago. If you look at the big picture, that’s what this is about. You don’t only have police brutality. You don’t have only have a decrease in public housing in the city and the closing of public schools. The neighborhood school is the last stable institution that we have. When you have good neighborhood schools, they service the neighborhood. They keep kids off the street; they help parents when they’re struggling and having issues in the home. That neighborhood school is a support system for the community, and the powers that be know that. 
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Will Campbell Brown’s “The 74” Investigate Charter Scandals?

My source says no…

74Reader: I j’adore investigative journalism. Which is why I was beyond excited to learn that Campbell Brown’s new edu-venture, The 74, will include an investigative component. After all, at a moment characterized by the movement of massive sums from public to private hands, perhaps no *space* cries out for investigating like education. But then a tip arrived in my inbox that made me sad. A reporter who interviewed for a job at The 74 reported that The 74 will not be investigating charter school scandals. Could such a thing really be true? It was time for me to investigate… Continue reading →