Monday, April 09, 2007

Green Dots in LA.

I've been reading up a bit about the craziness in LA regarding Green Dot charters.

Reader's Digest Version: GD wanted to open 8 new schools in the Watts area, had to ask permission of the school board to do so. Green Dot's academics are sound, as are their finances; these are the two benchmarks the school must meet in order to be granted permission to open. Heck, the schools are even unionized-- not with UTLA, but through CTA. (I'd love to see a copy of the contract.) LAUSD SB voted no, 3 to 3 (one member abstained 'cause he worked for Green Dot). The criticism that's being leveled at the three nay-sayers is that they are supported by UTLA, and are even in their pockets-- which is why they voted no. The three no-voters were blasted by the LAT in an editorial a few days ago.

My take?

Well, it's easy to comment on a situation that isn't happening in your school district. It's easy to say, well the board should have done this, and the union shouldn't do this, nor should these people do this. So I enter into this post understanding that I could say the way things should be; but then I'd say something completely different if it came to my neck of the woods. It's not, so here goes.

The main reason that unions exist is for job protection of the members; this includes maintaining and enhancing the current salary, benefits and working conditions of the rank and file. Union leadership that failed to protect the jobs of its current members would quickly look around to see few, if any supporters and lose the next election, if a recall election were unable to be called due to the bylaws.

Very few substantive, lasting things in the edu-world these days are done without the involvement of someones legislature; therefore unions have transformed from organizing animals in the 60's and 70's to become political animals; therefore, unions understand the importance of organizing politically, supporting and funding candidates that agree with and support the issues that are important to them.

Having said that, let me analyze the Green Dot "event" that happened in LAUSD.

Quite simply put, whether you like it or not, UTLA (and its political support system) worked as it should have.

Charter schools = loss of money for public ed.

Loss of money for public ed= loss of jobs of teachers.

Loss of jobs of teachers= bad thing for the union (action must be taken).

Action needing to be taken / Sympathetic LAUSD School Board Members = Zero Green Dot Schools

When individual citizens elect or unseat SB members based on their interests, it's called democracy. When unions (democratic organizations, mind you) help elect or unseat SB members based on the issues that are important to them and they actually represent you, it's called bribery, "buying a school board member" or "being in the union's pocket".


NYC Educator said...

I agree with you, as always. But there are some points to note here. Green Dot is a union shop, and much is made of that.

What is not widely publicized is that teachers give up tenure if they choose to work for Green Dot. So it's kind of a mixed blessing being unionized with no substantive job protection.

Dr. Homeslice said...

A union shop without tenure isn't much of a union shop. Call it "Union Lite" or "Reduced Calorie Union" or something.

NYC Educator said...

That's much nicer, actually, than what I was going to call it.

Ryan said...

I'll play the heretic for a moment.

As long as the contract contains provisions for due process and just cause, is tenure necessary?

Anonymous said...

I happened to have analyzed the Green Dot contract compared to the LAUSD/UTLA contract. The Green Dot one can be found here:

1) Those who are proud that Green Dot is "unionized" are actually more proud that the the Green Dot union is really marginalized.
2) No accumulated sick leave, defined contribution health care (~$420 a month, below market rate), no pregnancy leave, inferior top end of salary scale, no disciplinary procedures, no binding arbitration.... suggests that the only people Green Dot expects to employ are the young and idealistic, and even them, not for long. Teaching is temporary, missionary work, for young, mostly white folks to go save the poor, black, and brown. Its certainly not a career, unless its a springboard into management, where the real money is at
3)Why can't you vote out Steve Barr? (Head of Green Dot)
4) CTA (and not UTLA) nominally organizes the charters because no one else has the resources to spend taking on this massive project. CTA gets dues, Green Dot gets labor movement street cred, and the foundations of public education as a public enterprise are weakened. Energy might be better spent figuring out how to stem the rising tide of semi-private, sub-standard schools based on a promise of college and offering not much else...

FYI-the politics with SB, Villaraigosa, CTA, UTLA, and the privatizer lobby are quite complex.., from one on the inside..

Dr. Homeslice said...


I would say yes, tenure should still be included. Can you think of a reason why it shouldn't be?

Anonymous said...

how many teachers actually get fired unjustly cuz they don't have tenure? can you tell me one? i work for LAUSD and the tenured teachers that are my colleagues are some of the most incompetent difficult, resistant to change, workers. union protections only protect the incompetent. green dot's teachers must do their best so their administrators help them out. my administrators are useless. stop believing the lies that the unions tell you. they do nothing good.


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