NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Teachers' Unions Try Charter Schools

September 22, 1996

The National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers -- the two major teachers' unions -- are helping their members set up charter schools in some states. After fighting the concept for years, the NEA says it wants to study how charter schools would work in a union setting.

  • The NEA requires that the schools it helps be similar to regular schools in their financing, teacher-pupil ratios and percentage of students with special needs.
  • The first such school opened this month in Hawaii -- with five others being developed in other states.
  • While the union will not provide the schools with cash, it will advise on administrative, instructional and performance issues.
  • The aim, according to one union official, is to prove that union contracts do not stand in the way of quality education.

But Chester E. Finn, Jr., an educational expert with the Hudson Institute, said that the single most important form of freedom for charter schools is to hire and fire employees, and pay them as they see fit -- unconstrained by union contracts. Otherwise, he said, the union's schools would be pale imitations of other charter schools.

Source: "Teachers' Unions Joining Experiment With Charter Schools," New York Times, September 22, 1996.

 

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