June 1, 2010

A TIME FOR CHOOSING:

Black Parents vs. the Teachers' Union (Nat Hentoff, Jun 1 2010, Village Voice)

In Harlem—as elsewhere in this city, state, and nation—there is a sharply rising struggle between teachers' unions and black parents.

That dispute is over parental choice of schools, especially in regards to publicly financed charter schools which can, and usually do, refuse to recognize teachers' unions. Geoffrey Canada, whose Harlem Children's Zone is nationally known for making charter schools a working part of the community, recently sent out a rallying cry to black parents everywhere when he said, "Nobody's coming. Nobody is going to save our children. You have to save your own children."

In Harlem, where thousands of parents apply for charter schools on civil rights grounds, State Senator Bill Perkins—whose civil liberties record I've previously praised in this column—is in danger of losing his seat because of his fierce opposition to charter schools. The UFT contributes to his campaigns. His opponent, Basil Smikle—who has worked for Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Bill Clinton Foundation, and, unfortunately, Michael Bloomberg—says: "Education has galvanized the community."

Also galvanized is the two-million-member state AFL-CIO, which has declared that a vote in the state legislature to expand the number of charter schools is anti-union. And the Working Families Party, financially backed by the United Federation of Teachers and the state teachers' union, has a litmus test for candidates seeking its support—will they back strict limitations on charter schools?

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 1, 2010 8:06 PM
blog comments powered by Disqus
« THERE IS NO PAKISTAN: | Main | THERE'S A GREAT BIT IN THE BRETHREN... (via Glenn Dryfoos): »