Oakland teachers union forces charter school moratorium as strike ends

Oakland teachers, on strike for a week, ended their walkout when they reached an agreement with the school board that will increase their pay 11%, reduce class sizes, and enforce a moratorium on approving new charter schools.

The Bay area is the most expensive place to live in the nation, so the 11% raise was easily justified. Reducing class sizes is also a good thing. But why a moratorium on charter schools?

A similar halt to new charters was part of the deal ending the Los Angeles teachers strike. 


The deal for Oakland's educators is the latest of several strikes by teachers across major U.S.cities.

Teachers and students whose parents kept them home to support the strike will return to school on Monday. Schools had been open and operating with a skeleton crew of substitute teachers.

“I personally agree with so much of what the teachers have been saying,” Johnson-Trammell said. “We cannot fix decades of chronic underinvestment in education with a single contract, but this is an important first step. We look forward to working together, directing the passion and energy that we saw during the strike into a collective effort to increase state funding and build the schools our students deserve. In this, we are united.”

The end of the Oakland strike marks the most recent resolution to walkouts between teachers and school districts, starting in West Virgnia and including Los Angeles and Denver.

The agreement still needs to be ratified, after which the teachers will receive a 3 percent bonus, according to the union's statement.

There is a nationwide assault by teachers unions on charter schools. Of this, there can be no doubt. And state legislators across the country are also looking at legislation to restrict, impede, and destroy the charter school movement.

It's not just a question of charters using non-union teachers in many cases. Charters are a threat to the myth of public education in the US, that the reason for low achievement is because they have to educate all kids, even those with extreme poverty in their backgrounds.

In fact, it is the poorest kids that benefit the most from charter schools.

  • Though California’s charter school enrollment more than doubled during the past decade, from nearly 250,000 kids to about 630,000, only about 10 percent of the state’s 6.2 million public-school students are enrolled in charters, according to state data. From 2007-08 to 2017-18, the period we examined, more than half of California’s school districts—many of them suburban—authorized no charters at all.
  • Charter school expansion seems to correlate with poverty in California. More than half of the state’s charter enrollment is in districts where most students get free and reduced-price lunches. And many of the hotspots are in and around big urban areas with high concentrations of low income kids.

Charter schools spring up where public education has radically failed the community.

But L.A. and Oakland are exceptions. There were 73 school districts in CALmatters’ database with total enrollments higher than 20,000 students—a group that accounts for more than half of the state’s public school enrollment. Of those, only 18 (San Diego, San Francisco and Chula Vista Elementary school districts also were among them) had more than 10 percent of their total enrollment in chartersDominating that list were districts in big cities and poorer communities.

In far more of California’s districts, charter schools are scarcely an option. Two dozen other big districts—in populous suburbs such as Irvine, Garden Grove, Fontana and Chino Valley in Orange and San Bernardino counties—authorized no charter schools at all in the past decade. This could suggest that there is either little demand or effort to establish charters in these communities, or intense resistance from districts toward authorizing them.

Overall, more than half of California’s school districts—650, of all sizes—authorized zero charters.

Why should a suburban district authorize a charter school when the public schools are doing an adequate job?

Teachers unions act as if charter schools are opened to deliberately undermine public education. It's a conspiracy theory with no basis in fact. All charters do is give parents an option, a choice. That is the real threat to teachers unions and that's why they are fighting for contracts that restrict them and fighting in state legislatures to destroy them. As long as teachers unions have a monopoly on educating children, they have enormous power. Give parents a choice, and teachers lose power.

It really is as simple as that. 

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