(New York Times) — In a trend that worries charter school operators, teachers at 12 of Chicago’s charters have formed unions over the past two years, and the Chicago Teachers Union is seeking to organize all 85 of the schools. Union leaders say the growing charter movement is changing the landscape of public education and, with its disdain for unions, could leave teachers without a strong voice on issues like working conditions, teacher evaluations and curriculum. Administrators and operators are battling back, arguing that unionization could undermine the basic premise of the charter school model: that they are more effective because they are free from the regulations and bureaucracies that govern traditional public schools.
Unionization of charter schools is a major step for the Chicago Teachers Union. Though charter teachers in other cities have formed unions, Chicago is one of the first where the public school system’s major union has directed the effort, according to the American Federation of Teachers. The unions at the 12 charter schools are affiliated with the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, which is a joint program of the C.T.U., the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers. At eight of the schools, teachers have contracts, at two they are in negotiation and at two they are fighting to be recognized by their school administrations.