Whatever the outcome of the strike by teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District, one thing is inevitable: Charter schools will be next in line. I say that because the first-ever charter school strike in the nation already took place in Chicago (“A Labor Strike at a Charter School?” The Nation, Jan. 7).
Until now, teachers in charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately operated, have overwhelmingly not belonged to a union. But conditions are slowly changing as a result of disaffection with the status quo. Chief among these is resentment over the lack of autonomy accorded teachers and salaries that are 20 to 30 percent less than teachers at traditional public schools.
It’s true that wait lists for admission to charters in many cities are already long and growing longer. Yet I wonder if exasperated parents will feel the same way about the hype surrounding their alleged superiority once teachers threaten a strike and go through with it. The fact is that teaching today is much harder than it was in the past, whether in public, private or religious schools. Sooner or later, teachers will flee the classroom unless they are given greater respect and support.
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