California Educator

June/July 2021

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RENAISSANCE " I T ' S H U M A N I Z I N G T O have a voice, with people who share the same values and believe in teachers and education," says ninth grade humanities educator Carol King. "at's why having a voice is so important." In late April, King and about 400 of her colleagues at San Diego's High Tech High charter school network organized High Tech Education Collective (HTEC), becoming the newest members of the CTA family and joining a growing list of charter educators who believe the best way to support their stu- dents and each other is in a union. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, educators have organized unions at seven charter school networks, affiliating with CTA to defend the health and safety of their school communities, protect and support their students, and rise together to fight for justice. "e last two years have shown us how much we need to transform society. We need radical imagination and collabora- tion," says King, an educator for 12 years, the last eight at High Tech High. "A union makes a lot of sense moving forward to reimagine our schools, so we can build a better world." Nationwide, labor unions are experi- encing a renaissance of support. A recent Gallup poll found 65 percent of Americans support unions, the highest level in more than 50 years. And an April Pew Research Center report shows that a majority of Americans believe that the historic decline of union membership (only 10.8 percent of American workers are union members today, down from 20 percent in 1983) has been bad for the United States. Approximately 1,500 petitions for union representa- tion were filed in 2020 with the National Labor Relations Board, including one by Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, which made national headlines. Though their effort came up short, the workers showed that even in the heart of the South against one of the largest corpo- rations in the world, the tide seems to be shifting. In late April, President Joe Biden created a W hite House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, led by Vice President Kamala Harris and focused on increasing union membership, facilitating worker organizing nationwide, and increasing worker power in under- served communities. "Am e r i c a w a s b u i l t b y t h e m i d d l e class, and unions built the middle class," Bi d en sai d in a st at em ent. " Th e t a sk force will be a historic effort to put the federal government's policy of encour- aging worker organizing and collective bargaining into action." 'A unique union for a unique school' A lot has changed since High Tech High (HTH) public charter school opened in 2000 to serve 450 students. With 16 schools and 6,350 students on four campuses throughout San D iego County now, the charter school network is essen- tially a school district, according to Becky Frost, Educators organize for better as the labor movement is reborn By Julian Peeples Illustration by Bob Venables 27 J U N E / J U L Y 2 0 21 "My hope and dream for this union is to give teachers a voice so we can continue to build the passion in this organization." —CAROL KING, High Tech Education Collective

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