Delusional Howard Dean Says Union War On Charter Schools Nearing End

Kyle Olson

5/25/2011 12:01:00 AM - Kyle Olson
During a recent television appearance, former Vermont Gov. and Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean said “charter schools are the future” and suggested that the charter school/teacher union “battle is coming to an end.”

Yeah, right. Or, in Howard Dean’s language: YYYEEEAARRRR, right!

The “battle” may be over, but the teacher unions’ desire to co-opt (and ultimately destroy) charter schools remains. The tactics have changed. Instead of the Gatling-gun approach, they’re now resorting to the Boa Constrictor method.

In fact, the unions have been surprisingly candid about their new strategy of infiltration and suffocation.

United Federation of Teachers Vice President, Leo Casey, considers charter schools competition that will cost teaching jobs in traditional public schools. His goal is to organize the teachers so public support for charters will drop off. He said this at the recent socialist Left Forum:

“If we do not figure out how to organize charter schools and if we are not successful in doing that, we will end up in the same place as the auto workers. So there is no more key question before us as a union and a broader labor movement with regard to education than how we approach charter schools and our ability to organize them.”

This reinforces something Detroit Federation of Teachers President Keith Johnson wrote a year ago:

“Most important of all, organizing charters will strengthen our power and influence as a union. It is reasonable to believe that as more charters are faced with having to be more like traditional public schools in terms of accountability, wages and benefits, due process, and paying into the retirement system, many of them will dry up because now they will not be as profitable, thus not as appealing to those seeking to authorize them.”

The New York Times recently wrote about the efforts of the Chicago Teachers Union to organize all of Chicago’s 85 charter schools.

In Massachusetts, the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School teaching staff recently voted to join the American Federation of Teachers. Teachers reportedly are already having second thoughts.

When a charter school staff decides to unionize, they are effectively destroying the school’s flexibility and innovation – the very things that make charter schools work. Unionized charter schools are burdened with teacher contracts that dictate how every nanosecond of the school day is to be spent.

That makes them carbon copies of the schools that so many children want to escape.

Unions are the death knell for charter schools, and that’s exactly what the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association want.

At first the unions tried to prevent the formation of charter schools. That didn’t work, so now they are trying to infiltrate and destroy them from within. The American people should be aware of this dangerous effort to kill a very promising educational option.