Newark Teachers Union

Opinion by Laura Waters in NJ Left Behind


 It’s no secret that teacher unions look askance at charter school expansion. There are several reasons for the backlash against alternative public schools. Some labor leaders are fearful of traditional schools' loss of market share as charter schools expand; some worry about unfair advantages stemming from  charter schools' ability to diverge from traditional 180-day school calendars; some mistrust merit-based compensation.

But perhaps one of most unexplored objections of  labor leaders to charter school expansion is the potential loss of union jobs. So here’s a debt of gratitude to the Newark Teachers Union which has  unabashedly stripped off the pretense.

First, let’s acknowledge that the potential loss of government jobs in impoverished communities is a serious concern. As Camden Councilman Arthur Barclay wrote , “Change is complicated, hard and not without opposition. In some instances, making progress for students may mean some adults are losing their jobs, sadly.”

However, we enter a less righteous arena when valid concerns about adult employment overpower concerns about children’s education. And that's a landscape that will continue to loom as access to alternative public schools becomes more widely available.

For example, Andrew Martin describes here the tally of parental choice during this year’s universal enrollment process in Newark when parents rank placements in order of preference: “The seven most frequently ranked K-8 schools were charters and for more than 50 percent of Newark families, charters were their Number 1 choice.”

Nationally, according to Education Post’s recent poll, 72% of African-American  parents believe that “public charter schools offer parents in low-income communities options for quality schools that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.”

Parents are making choices among public schools and, in Newark, are increasingly choosing charters. Union leaders are understandably concerned. But we cross an ethical line when those leaders muster their political muscle to undermine parents.

Newark Teachers Union just crossed that line.

This Friday NTU is holding a “City Hall Candlelight Vigil” at Newark City Hall “to protest another charter school opening.”

From the NTU website:

For every tax dollar disappeared at the expense of reform for profitlight a candle. For every full time aide, security or cafeteria worker now unemployedlight a candle; and light one for their children this Christmas. For every teacher forced out of their job to another districtlight a candle. For every student separated from his lifelong classmates by OneNewarklight a candle. For every child whose heart was set on learning a musical instrumentlight a candle. 
Let this not come easy for these corporate parasites. On Monday, October 19 we must set the Newark twilight afire with our outrage!

You want more?  From NTU’s Facebook page:

Teachers and Aides ALERTCafeteria lunch lines are a disaster. The NPS terminated dozens of cafeteria workers and now expect YOU to pick up the slack. Pages 28-29 of the contract define who/how we are to volunteer for Cafe Duty and get PAID for doing this duty. Monitoring is NOT THE SAME as working or assisting in the cafeteria itself, or replacing workers behind the line. That is called being a scab. DON'T BE A SCAB!! Whats more important to a child, that he get his tater tots on time, or that his mommy gets her job back with benefits before Christmas. Any questions or concerns call or email us.

Feed a child or keep your job? Talk about a false dichotomy. Maybe NTU needs some education in logic.

Look, I get that the job of a labor union is to protect member jobs. But surely there's a more dignified and professional way to model dissent than threats of fire, outrage, and withholding of tater tots.

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