NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Can For-Profit Schools Find Allies In Teachers' Unions?

February 20, 2001

School-choice advocates and teachers' unions have been going at it like cats and dogs for the last decade. But some observers think they see signs of a future rapprochement between the two warring groups.

  • For-profit school management companies see failing public schools as offering greater opportunities for professional management than charter schools.
  • Taking over public schools is cheaper and more lucrative than managing charters because school districts typically pay for renovation and shoulder other capital expenses.
  • Unions see management by for-profit companies as preferable to state takeovers because the states are often tougher than local districts in negotiations with unions.
  • Such arrangements are also preferable from the unions' standpoint to public-school students switching to nonunion private schools with the aid of vouchers or attending nonunion charter schools -- because public school teachers tend to be dues-paying union members.

At its convention last year, the National Education Association -- the largest national teachers' union -- replaced a resolution opposing all for-profit management with a milder policy that considers privatizations on a case-by-case basis.

Source: Daniel Golden, "For-Profit School Managers Discover Teachers' Unions Can Be Allies," Wall Street Journal, February 20, 2001.

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