LA teachers' strike: Charter school teachers walk out, too

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What could Charter school teachers have to complain about? 15 student class sizes? Just go to the public school district, grab a bunch of cash from the pot and fill your coffers like you always do. Problem solved.

It’s about solidarity and standards across the district that let all teachers do their jobs for a proper wage.


Here’s my canned response about our success at a charter. I completely understand that the school is in the minority but it truly is a great model and continues to grow year over year:

I’m going to throw out a contrarian viewpoint knowing that there are a lot of bad charter schools out there.

Both of my kids attend, and my wife teaches at a charter school which focuses on the arts and global education. Pretty much every accusation towards the “bad” charter schools is not the case with us. The school receives no more funding than any other school, parental involvement is a requirement (typically each class has 2 or more parent volunteers every day), getting into the school is a blind lottery (the only exception is that siblings of existing students get priority), the school regularly outperforms other schools in the district, the teachers are allowed to use progressive teaching techniques, the teachers win more school district grants than any other school (these are judged blindly by the district), there is less emphasis on standardized testing, the district performs all oversight, students learn in hands-on centers as opposed to primarily lecture-based learning, non-violent communication, it’s a huge wonderful community, there is a non-profit board that governs, etc. etc. etc.

Our school is a great alternative. We’ve had a lot of students that did poorly at “traditional” school, were bullied, didn’t fit in, you name it. Our hippie dippie school has worked wonders for some kids, including my own, by focusing on the “whole child” instead of one subject at a time and teaching to the test.

I think my point is that charters can work and work well but you need the right people with the right attitudes running them.


A lot of teachers don’t take jobs at charter schools because they prefer the charter school model to the public school model, they take those jobs because that happens to be where the job opportunities are available.

Make no mistake; charter school teachers are often paid and treated worse than teachers at traditional public schools.


All those points sound great. Could they also not take money from the public school district? Maybe the wave of public schools on strikes across the country would not be happening if funds weren’t diverted to charter schools. And if you have to be funded by public school tax dollars, open your books, have elected board members/open public board meetings and share some of the burden of the overcrowded public school class sizes.


In the example of the school I’m referring to everything you stated is already true. Everything falls under the standards and scrutiny of the school district, class sizes are no different (which is another overall problem), student demographics are the same as the rest of the district, all funds are publicly reported, the school receives the same amount of funding per student, etc.

It’s a highly successful model of how this can be done the right way as the districts won’t typically support anything beyond the cookie cutter methods that many public schools have become.

Again, I don’t want to state that all Charter schools are good. I don’t believe a “for-profit” climate supports our kids in the way that it should. I just want to throw another perspective out there that not all Charters all leeches. Some provide a beneficial service to the students and families that need them.


seems like a good move to direct attention away from the fact that charter schools are a significant driver of the conflict between the district and teachers

For one thing, the reason that is given for why the district can’t lower class sizes or pay for nurses is that enrollment is down in LAUSD. If that is the case, why does the district keep opening new charter schools, each with their own facility, administration, and staffing costs? The freedom and flexibility that charters allow is also driving the district toward inevitable voucherization of education as the economy of scale that classic public schools had is replaced by smaller charters that vary in their ability to fund-raise to backstop the smaller piece of the pie that each one gets with every new charter.

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Well, if you read the article, you’d see they’re striking about salary, benefits, and class size, just like the UTLA folks.


Hi. I’m a teacher at one of these charter schools. We are on strike to demand basic protections that all teachers have: due process and binding arbitration. The collective bargaining agreement we are working under (which expired two years ago) allows for the school to fire us at the end of a school year WITHOUT CAUSE. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been at my school or whether or not I’m an effective teacher. We’ve lost highly effective teachers because of philosophical differences between administrators and teachers. One teacher that had been at the school for about five years was asked to change a student’s failing grade to a C (we do not have a D grade). He refused and was put on a performance improvement plan. Another teacher disagreed regularly with the new administration on a regular basis. The principal was in the process of getting an administrative credential and the assistant principal was a science teacher brought on by the new principal. The teacher in questions was the former dean at our school/ He resigned from that position to return to the classroom because he missed working with students. And yet a third teacher was fired at the end of her 5th (?) year because a student reported that this shy and soft-spoken teacher called her mom “dumb.” Even the though the allegations were unfounded, the damage was done. There’s so many stories like this from our family of charter schools. We work a longer school year and longer school day than district schools. We highly encourages to serve on many committees. Most of our teachers do not complain about any of this; we only want to be able to do our job and advocate for students without the fear of getting fired.

Not one classroom at any of our schools have 15 students. K-3 have 24 usually, grades 4-5 have 35 students, middle school and high school has about 40 per class, in most classes.

We do have our budgets publicly available on our website and all of our Board meetings are open to the public, with the exception of closed sessions during which they discuss bargaining with the various unions on campus.

I know there are a lot of bad charter schools out there, but we are one of the good ones.

Our teachers want to keep it that way. We need a way to speak out without losing our jobs and leaving the kids behind that we’re fighting so desperately to protect.


Here in Minnesota most charter school teachers are paid much less then public school teachers, and have worse benefits, no pension, etc. As a result they tend to be a starting point for young inexperienced teachers who then move on to a public district once they have learned how to teach well. I am a public school teacher, but for a variety of reasons a performing arts charter school was the right choice for two of my kids. Their arts teachers have been amazing, stick around, build relationships, are awesome. The class room teachers have been very hit and miss, and turn over very fast. I like the idea of more independent lab schools, I wish we had a state wide teacher union for all teachers, with one pay and benefits schedule. This would allow much more freedom of movement, and really build independent charter schools that worked for students and families, not for investors. I would totally teach in an inner city school close to my home if I weren’t stuck in the suburban district that was growing and hiring when I graduated 25 years ago.


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