Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Charter schools an attempt to break union

"Charter schools an attempt to break union," a letter to the editor printed in the current (2/11/10) issue of The Riverdale Press, was written in response to the article, "New charter school arrives with little fanfare" that appeared in last week's edition. The letter was written by Sheila Krstevski, an ESL teacher at De Witt Clinton H.S., which is currently being targeted for closure. You can read her letter here: The complete text of her letter appears below.
Original article, "New charter school arrives with little fanfare," from 2/4/10 edition of The Riverdale Press:
Charter schools an attempt to break union
To the editor:
The New York City Department of Education has been trying to convince the public that charter schools are the answer to all of the problems in city schools. That is because, in actuality, the goal of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and schools Chancellor Joel Klein’s charter school movement is to destroy the teachers’ union - the UFT - and privatize education.
Parents should be alarmed. The teachers who work with their children every day have long been the champions of the students in bargaining about the issues that affect students directly, including two of the most important: class size and safety. If you take away the power of the teachers to negotiate with the city, you take away the power of the advocates for the students to negotiate on their behalf. Remember: parents are not at the bargaining table.
Furthermore, the policies of the Department of Education are prejudiced against experienced teachers. Experienced teachers cost more than high-turnover Teach for America recruits and Teaching Fellows, and they know their union rights. However, experienced teachers have made teaching New York City’s children their life’s mission. They have devoted decades to professional development. If you eliminate the experienced teachers, you are left with teachers with limited experience, many working under administrators with limited experience, and no one for either group to turn to for advice.
The business-oriented leadership of the current Department of Education seems to be more concerned with money than quality. Did they not learn while they were in the business world that you get what you pay for?
The closing of schools based on questionable criteria and the shuffling of school staff, combined with a financial disincentive for schools to hire higher-paid seasoned teachers, has resulted in an unprecedented pool of talented, experienced teachers without permanent positions in schools - only because they cost more.
Now the Bloomberg administration is demanding a contract that would allow this underutilized pool that he created to be fired rather than be assigned to schools, even the large public schools that most of the city’s children attend, where these policies have created ever-increasing overcrowding and class size.
Placing a charter elementary school where it is not needed harms the underutilized public schools in the same neighborhood. The charter school solution that Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Klein advocate diverts public attention from the Department of Education’s failure to support and provide resources to make all our public schools, both small, and especially, large, successful. They are all under his control, and all his responsibility
Source: February 11, 2010 online edition of The Riverdale Press.

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