Are There Deals to be Made?

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A little while ago I was talking to a friend of mine from the labor movement.

He said: if high-performing charter schools were willing to make deals with labor, these charter schools would gain much more political support.

He argued that many unions, most especially service and construction union, might go against the teachers union if it was in their members’  interest.

Given that: (1) service union members work at schools (2) construction union members build schools and (3) both of their members often send their children to public schools – he thought there were deals to be had.

Specifically, if charters agreed to hire union service laborers in their buildings, and hire union construction laborers to build their buildings, these unions could become significant political supporters.

Some thoughts:

1. My initial emotional reaction was negative. The thought of using public tax dollars to pay for (perhaps) lesser quality services at a (likely) higher price did not sit well me.

2. I imagine many high-performing charter leaders, many of whom are more operationally hardcore than I am, would react the same way.

3. This emotional reaction might be causing shortsighted decision making. I’m very open to the idea that accepting some inefficiency for increased political support could be a net benefit for children.

4. I also think there could be a secondary educational value of raising the wages of the parents of the children that we serve.

5. I’m also terrified of slippery slopes. In public education, there are a million of seemingly minor reasons to not be absolutely focused on delving an excellent education. Saying yes to one is always dangerous. It’s very easy to become the thing you were attempting to replace.

There is much to consider on this issue.

2 thoughts on “Are There Deals to be Made?

  1. Mike G

    Many charters do both already in Northeast. Haven’t seen that hypothesis proven true.

    Hard to imagine scenario where charter business represents more than 0.1% of total wages for these unions.

    A more plausible scenario is in a city like NOLA, or DC, where a large % of parents choose charters, it may be that a decent-sized contingent of a service worker local might already be in a union, and could influence politics there.

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    1. nkingsl Post author

      Agree that large market share – or potential of large market share – is what would get folks to table. Also, even 10-20% market share in cities like NYC and LA probably equate to large dollar figures…

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