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Do New Orleans Charter School Teachers Need Unions?

Poor Albert Einstein.

A longtime member of the American Federation of Teachers and an outspoken advocate of teacher unionism and social justice causes, Einstein has had his good name attached to a New Orleans charter school that has been engaging in practices that are the antithesis of his strongly held values. [Einstein was a charter member of AFT Local 552 at Princeton University.]

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, an Einstein Charter School Board meeting erupted in controversy over the school administration’s use of “harsh corporal punishment” and the abrupt, unexplained firings of four of the school’s teachers. [Apparently, the board had not even been informed of the firings.] Within hours of the meeting, the teachers were re-hired, the principal and other top brass were suspended and an investigation begun of the many charges levied against the school.

Einstein Charter School provides a window into the meaning of “at will employment” which anti-union charter school management so cherishes. As the Times-Picayune article recounts it,

[Janice] Williams, an educator since 1968, said she was called into the office Friday and told to leave the building immediately — she could make an appointment to pick up her belongings later. Williams said she was not given a reason for her dismissal…

[Kendra] Jones said she was called into the office for a meeting with [school administrators] and told she was being let go because of unspecified misconduct. Jones said she was given 30 minutes to pack up her belongings and leave.

“I was humiliated, the way it was done, because I was treated as though I was a criminal,” Jones said. “I was told I couldn’t talk to the kids. I couldn’t talk to my co-workers. I just had to proceed within 30 minutes to get all my personal belongings and be out of the school.”

[Tia] Crowley said she was also given 30 minutes to leave the school and not given a reason why she was fired. The staff members who were fired were told they were guaranteed their pay through Friday.



  • 1 phyllis c. murray
    · Jun 24, 2007 at 7:51 pm

    Today, there is a need for more courageous men and women to find themselves on the map of human geography because the crisis in basic civil rights, continues in the workplace and outside the workplace. A union of organized men and women can ensure fair treatment in the workplace and beyond the perimeters of the workplace Furthermore, as noted by the AFL-CIO, it is the union which will represent working families before lawmakers, and make sure politicians never forget that working families voted them into office. Thus, union organizations have been extremely effective in advocating the basic civil rights causes of their members in the halls of government at the federal, state, and county levels.

    Do New Orleans Charter School Teachers Need Unions? Yes. It’s elementary!

    Phyllis C. Murray

  • 2 ilian402
    · Jun 24, 2007 at 9:24 pm

    I’m researching NYC charter schools and have been trying to figure out what the salaries for secretaries and cafeteria workers are. I’ve tried sending a FOIL to the Dept. of Labor but they’re no help. Any ideas? Thank You!