California Educator

August 2014

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Page 45 of 73

Like a growing number of charter colleagues around California, Bay Area charter school teacher Molly Fenn is strengthening schools by unionizing them. Students and the teaching profession benefit from the process, they say, and so do traditional schools as more charter educators join the CTA family, making us stronger for battles ahead. Story and photos by Mike Myslinski Feature C harter school teachers' and regular school teachers' fates are balanced together," Fenn says. "If our working conditions are changing or if we're being exploited in our jobs, that's going to affect teachers everywhere." That's why CTA and NEA are supporting charter school employees. Having a union helps charter teach- ers reclaim the spirit and mission of their unique schools, the innovative collaborations that all public schools can learn from, says CTA President Dean E. Vogel. "As more charter management companies put profits before stu- d e n t l e a r n i n g , t h e e d u c a t o r s a t these schools are seeing that CTA re s o u rc e s c a n h e l p t h e m re s to re their school cultures by leveling the playing field," Vogel says. "Collec- tive bargaining means a more stable workforce, a greater say in decisions affecting classrooms, and getting more respect for the teaching pro- fession. The well-funded charter school movement is growing. These are our colleagues and we are all stronger together." Vo ge l s ay s t h e s t a t e w i d e p u s h t o u n i o n i z e c h a r t e r s i s a l s o p a r t o f C TA' s n e w s t r a t e g i c p l a n , w h i c h c o m m i t s t h e u n i o n t o r e b u i l d i n g a c u l t u r e o f o r g a n i z i n g a n d t o s u p p o r t unrepresented educators. There are many charter educators who want to have more of a voice in their schools. Only about 180 of Cali- fornia's 1,100 public charter schools are unionized. The state has about 10,000 public schools overall. Nationwide, about 12 percent of the estimated 6,000 charter schools are unionized, according to the National Alliance for Pub- lic Charter Schools. Bay Area Victory Fenn and her colleagues at Alameda's Community Learn- ing Center Schools, Inc., saw how management actions were hurting the employees and students. Teachers were kicked off the nonelected governing board. Gradually, her 60 colleagues at their two schools More charter school educators joining CTA family Charter school teachers picket in the effort to unionize Ivy Academia School in Los Angeles in May. Photo by Jessica Foster. 44

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