No sooner did we rid the city of a teachers’ union in D.C.’s charter schools comes the disappointing news from the Washington Post’s Perry Stein that the American Federation of Teachers is trying to organize at Mundo Verde Bilinqual PCS. Her article points out that instructors at the school state that they want more of a say in the management of the charter. They also want a raise. In reality, if this move is successful, they will most likely get neither.
Ms. Stein states that the school missed a deadline imposed by staff members to recognize union representation last week. I received word at this time that the union activity was going on, with the support of parents, but could not get confirmation because it was spring break. In her article, Ms. Stein includes this comment from Kristin Scotchmer, the charter’s executive director.
“We know that every member of the school team seeks to make Mundo Verde the best it can be. As a result, we need to include all members of our community in this conversation, including those that have reservations about unionization. There is good reason to consider deliberately any implications for Mundo Verde and our school community if a labor contract were to govern how teachers and other staff interacted with administrators, students, and families.”
The Post article states that at least 90 of the 110 teaches at the school are in favor of joining the AFT. There were hints in the past that this institution was ripe for union involvement. At a meeting of the DC Public Charter School Board in May 2017, when the school was seeking to replicate, I reported:
“More than a dozen parents testified that the expansion plans for this school was coming too soon with complaints that there was high teacher turnover occurring at the charter, although the school stated that it has a retention rate of over 80 percent. They also contended that the school had just reached its current maximum enrollment this year, and therefore it was premature in its relatively short six year history to grow to another site. The negative statements resulted in spurring PCSB executive director Scott Pearson to interject a couple of times in the discussion to point out Mundo Verde’s impressive track record.”
It was also Mr. Pearson who suggested in 2016 that having union membership at a D.C. charter school could be a good idea.
The weather is nice right now in Washington, D.C. so maybe the teachers at Mundo Verde will follow the example of Christian Herr at Cesar Chavez PCS and take to protesting on the streets. Alternatively, they could also emulate those at Chavez Prep by taking their case to the National Labor Relations Board. In any case, the losers will be the students at the school who are there to learn.
Mundo Verde is set to open a new campus this coming August. Perhaps if the union vote goes through all operations can be moved to the new location.