Right in the middle of National Charter School Week, the teachers at Mundo Verde Bilingual PCS voted by a wide margin to become part of the District of Columbia Alliance of Charter School Teachers and Staff (DCACTS), an arm of the American Federation of Teachers.
I really have enjoyed all of the positive media stories over the past few days regarding children and staff that comprise the charter school landscape in the nation’s capital. However, it is extremely difficult to be happy when the employees of one of our premier institutions agree to be represented by a group that desperately wants to shut down these innovative schools. Consider this comment two months ago by AFT president Randi Weingarten about charters, as written about by Sean Higgins of the Washington Examiner:
“Weingarten told C-SPAN the AFT would try to make it [the charter school issue] a national issue by asking presidential candidates if they backed traditional public schools or the ‘private, for-profit charter operator who doesn’t have any accountability.'”
Here’s what she had to say last January after a teachers’ strike in Los Angeles resulted in a moratorium on the opening of new charter schools:
“In the wake of tax caps, the lack of appropriate investment has been a challenge for public education in Los Angeles for decades. Add to that the unregulated growth of charter schools that siphoned off more funding, and the result was the scarcity that led to the L.A. teachers’ strike. While charters were sold as a response to the demand for better schools, they too have a mixed record. More than 80 percent of charter schools cannot meet their projected enrollment numbers, and 8 of the 10 worst-performing schools in L.A., including one that has already been closed, are charter schools. So a moratorium is a good idea to bring equity and sustainability back to LAUSD, and with this vote, the school board made good on its promise to help do it.”
Finally, as Mel Leonor of Politico found Ms. Weingarten commenting in 2017, “American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten has called charter school expansion ‘part of a coordinated national effort to decimate public schooling’.”
I really don’t understand the teachers over at Mundo Verde. They must really dislike their place of employment. Why else would you agree to be represented by an organization that wants to see your school disappear off the face of the earth?
I also deeply feel for Kristin Scotchmer, Mundo Verde’s executive director, the other members of her leadership team, and its board. After all they have done for this school, including founding it, growing it to be a DC Public Charter School Board Performance Management Framework Tier 1 facility, and successfully moving it from a crowded, inhospitable space on 16th Street, N.W. to what will become two beautiful state-of-the-art buildings this summer, they must feel particularly dejected.
Finally, I’m terribly disappointed in the lack of public reinforcement for the school’s administration. We have so many charter school support organizations in this town. Many of its chiefs are my friends. Where are you in this fight for the future of our movement? Why were you silent?
Despite truly heroic efforts, the verdict on whether 20 years of public school reform have been successful in Washington, D.C. is still to be decided. Yesterday, we took a tremendous step in the completely wrong direction.