Teach­ers at two char­ter schools move to join Bos­ton union

Boston Herald - - OPINION - By KATH­LEEN McKIERNAN — kath­leen.mckiernan @boston­her­ald.com

Teach­ers at two char­ter schools have voted to join the Bos­ton Teach­ers Union — mark­ing a po­ten­tially sig­nif­i­cant change in how the schools op­er­ate.

Teach­ers and staff from the City on a Hill Cir­cuit Street School and the City on a Hill Dud­ley Square School want to use the union to ad­vo­cate for more teacher lead­er­ship and teacher re­ten­tion, in­creased bud­get trans­parency and eq­ui­table pay, the union said.

The teach­ers pre­sented their de­mands to the school ad­min­is­tra­tors yes­ter­day, ask­ing school of­fi­cials to be­gin col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions with the teach­ers by the end of March, union lead­ers say.

Char­ter schools typ­i­cally run with­out unions, which ad­min­is­tra­tors say gives them more flex­i­bil­ity out­side teacher ten­ure.

The schools are con­sid­ered “Com­mon­wealth” char­ter schools whose char­ters are granted by the Mas­sachusetts Depart­ment of El­e­men­tary and Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion. The schools are not op­er­ated by the Bos­ton Pub­lic Schools sys­tem.

“I have taught at City on a Hill Dud­ley Square since the school opened in 2013, and for a year at City on a Hill Cir­cuit Street be­fore that. We need a union at CoaH Dud­ley Square to help us im­prove teacher re­ten­tion,” Neysha Gon­za­lez, head Span­ish teacher at the Dud­ley Square School, said in a state­ment pro­vided by the union. “Re­duced turnover will help to main­tain a sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment for both teach­ers and stu­dents.”

His­tory teacher Don­ald “Max” McCul­lough III said in the state­ment, “After years of de­ci­sions that af­fect teach­ers and stu­dents at City on a Hill be­ing made with­out teach­ers’ in­put, we need a union to en­sure our voices are heard. Or­ga­niz­ing to­gether, through our union, is the best way to ad­vo­cate first for the needs of our stu­dents, and for our own needs as ur­ban ed­u­ca­tors.”

BTU Pres­i­dent Jes­sica Tang said in a state­ment, “Our pri­or­ity is cre­at­ing ex­cep­tional and suc­cess­ful learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences for all stu­dents. That means im­prov­ing the work­ing con­di­tions of all ed­u­ca­tors, in­clud­ing those work­ing at char­ter schools funded by pub­lic tax­payer dol­lars, to re­duce turnover and sus­tain sta­ble learn­ing en­vi­ron­ments for stu­dents . ... A com­mon bond among all teach­ers, whether we work in dis­trict or char­ter schools, is that we all want to see our stu­dents thrive.”

City on the Hill ad­min­is­tra­tors did not re­turn re­quests for com­ment.

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