The New York Post just doesn’t get it. An essential part of what makes the Green Dot schools in Los Angeles successful is the fact that they are union schools which give their teachers real voice: Green Dot teachers are represented by a local of the California Teachers Association and they work under a collective bargaining agreement negotiated between that union and Green Dot. Greed Dot founder Steve Barr has made it clear on numerous occasions that he would have it no other way.
So NYC’s Green Dot school is simply following in the footsteps of its sister L.A. schools. As UFT President Randi Weingarten clarified in a September 6, 2008 letter to the editor of the Post, teachers working at Green Dot New York Charter School are guaranteed “just cause” for any disciplinary action, including termination. Not only does this ensure fair and consistent treatment, it also surpasses the state’s tenure law as the school’s just cause commitment applies to all employees, not just those who have passed a probationary period. We’re glad that the Post picked up on this important detail in their editorial last weekend, even if they seem incapable of understanding that the same protection is provided in Green Dot’s Los Angeles schools.
No serious educator believes that schools will improve by stripping teachers of their rights and making their employment more vulnerable. A goal of the UFT partnership with Green Dot, as with our own UFT Charter School, is to dispel the canard that due process and other hard-won commitments to workplace fairness somehow inhibit student achievement. The strong achievement of our elementary charter school, along with the outstanding work of schools across the City, should be enough to mute this tired refrain from the anti-union reformistas.
As for the Green Dot New York Charter School’s teachers’ contract, the blogosphere will have to wait. Despite popular perception, we believe that the school’s teachers should be central participants in the bargaining process. As they were only hired in June and signed union recognition cards this summer, we’re now able to start negotiations. Stay tuned!