This weekend the New York legislature approved the state’s budget, including a mixed bag of education laws. On the positive side, the number of charter schools permitted in the state was doubled to 200. At the same time, however, The Journal News reports that there’s a pretty nasty downside, too: “All staff (not just teachers) must be unionized at new charter schools that are approved after July 1 and have more than 250 students within the first two years.” School reformer Tom Carroll reports that the United Federation of Teachers and others lobbied to make the auto-unionization clause apply to every charter school.
As it stands, the new law expands the auto-unionizing window from one to two years, which “led to charters opening with enrollments in the 240s, then vastly larger the second year, said Richard Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers.” Check out the sad state of the Newark school district next door in New Jersey, and see for yourself why it just might behoove a charter school to twist itself into knots to avoid teachers unions.
Even in its reduced form, the new requirement is absurd. In what sense of the word is it “representation” when teachers are automatically unionized? How well is a union going to serve its members if it has to do absolutely nothing to earn their dues money?