Teachers’ unions have apparently realized that charter schools pose a serious threat to their monopoly control over public education. Unions and their allies have failed repeatedly to push back the growth of the charter movement in large part because these independent charter schools are performing better than traditional schools and because parents love them. So, if you can’t rescind charter legislation, or strangle these autonomous schools with burdensome regulations (which they try very hard to do), the unions have taken a different approach: undermine these innovative schools from within. There is little or no evidence linking unionized schools to improved performance! Unionization of charters will severely undermine their effectiveness and will harm the charter brand.
On March 3, the Chicago Association of Charter Teachers and Staff (ACTS) announced an organizing drive at the Noble Network of Charter Schools, which has 18 campuses across Chicago, including Rauner College Prep. If the campaign is successful, Noble will become the nation’s largest unionized charter network. The addition of Noble’s 800 teachers and staff to its ranks would also give ACTS, a local of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), an impressive density in Chicago’s charter market—the union says it would represent as many as 40 percent of charter teachers in Chicago. About 10 percent of charter teachers nationwide are unionized, according to the pro-charter Center for Education Reform.