As teachers at the Brooklyn charter school KIPP AMP continue to pursue unionization under the United Federation of Teachers, their peers at two other New York City KIPP schools have sent a powerful message to the union -- stay back. In a win for the KIPP administration, which has been resisting the Brooklyn teachers' push to organize, teachers at the KIPP Academy and KIPP Infinity schools in Manhattan have submitted petitions to disaffiliate from the UFT, which currently has only a loose relationship with the two schools but has sought in recent months to become more involved. Elizabeth Green has the full story over at GothamSchools.
On Monday, you'll be able to read online my big April print feature about the evolving debate between free market education reformers and teachers' unions. This latest news from New York is a blow to one of the main subjects of my piece: Randi Weingarten, president of both the UFT and its national parent, the American Federation of Teachers. Weingarten has convincingly embraced the "reformer" mantle, most notably in a speech to the National Press Club in November, in which she came out in support of charter schools, curriculum standards, and performance-based pay for teachers. But key to Weingarten's vision -- and her power-base -- is teachers' unions' ability to retain their dominance over the profession, which means organizing in the expanding charter school sector. Currently, about 70 percent of public school teachers nationwide are unionized, but only about 86 of the country's 4,000 charter school staffs are represented. With even President Obama voicing enthusiastic support for opening new charter schools, unions are understandably nervous about their ability -- or lack thereof -- to be involved with this project.