Big Apple’s Teacher Union Bosses Eager to Hogtie Their Union-Free Competitors

Teacher Writing "I Will Pay Dues" on ChalkboardNew York City’s costly, Big Labor-controlled district public schools have for years done a very poor job of educating the children of Gotham’s less affluent families.  A small silver lining has been the growing, but still relatively tiny, system of public charter schools.  Like district schools, charter schools are financed overwhelmingly by taxes, charge no tuition, and can be shut down by the government if they fail to perform. But unlike the Big Apple’s district schools, charter schools are overwhelmingly union-free. And on the whole, they do a far better job of teaching schoolchildren, especially low-income and minority schoolchildren, at a per pupil cost roughly $2300 lower than that of district schools.

Not surprisingly, teacher union officials detest New York’s charter schools and have sought again and again to suppress their growth and, if possible, wipe them out altogether.  Recently-elected Big Labor Mayor Bill de Blasio, in some of his first significant actions in office, won union-boss applause by slashing funds for charter schools, denying a number of them the use of buildings they had been promised, and threatening to change current policies that allow charters to operate in otherwise unused district school buildings rent-free.

As New York Daily News columnist Joshua Greenman explains in the commentary linked below, a key reason union-free charters do a better job of educating schoolchildren is that they are not prevented from making sound management decisions by union bosses wielding monopoly-bargaining privileges:

Nine out of 10 New York City charters aren’t unionized, which gives them more freedom to put their staffs through rigorous training, lengthen the workday, adjust salaries, and hire and fire teachers — and school leaders — at will.

That’s in stark contrast to district schools, which have to abide by what can be rigid and stifling laws and contract rules.

In other words, charter school leaders have the freedom to make the types of smart decisions that are the hallmark of almost all well-run organizations.

Nothing in the law prevents teacher union bosses from launching organizing drives to unionize charter schools, but so far they have had little success in doing so.  The evident superiority in charter schools’ performance should logically encourage elected officials to roll back union bosses’ monopoly privileges in district schools, but logic rarely motivates the actions of politicians in the Empire State.  A growing reform coalition may at least thwart Mayor de Blasio’s Big Labor-inspired scheme to hogtie charter schools.

The current fight over charter schools in New York illustrates why the National Right to Work Committee’s efforts since the early 1970’s to stop the spread of union monopoly bargaining in schools and other public institutions, and ultimately to roll it back, are so important.

The truth about charter schools