In early June, the leadership of Chicago ACTS, the union representing nearly 20 percent of Chicago charter public school teachers, announced its intent to formally join the Chicago Teachers Union. While these groups will argue that they have charter school teachers’ best interests at heart, one thing about this merger is clear: It is simply another tactic to strengthen the CTU and undermine the charter public school movement.
It is no secret that the CTU is an anti-charter group that has long been openly hostile to the very existence of charter public schools. In fact, the CTU has blamed them for everything that ails the Chicago Public Schools system today, including “decreased (public school) enrollment, the greatest number of school closings in Chicago’s history, budget cuts and layoffs at the majority of schools in the last 10 years.”
Perhaps these are the reasons the CTU uses to justify its disproportionate targeting of charter public schools for disadvantageous treatment. In its labor agreement with CPS, for example, the CTU pushed for a temporary moratorium on charter public schools — and not any other school type — resulting in Chicago’s dubious distinction as the only American city with a self-imposed cap on the number of charter public schools and hurting our city’s most vulnerable students.
What’s more, the CTU has never supported pro-charter laws, even the ones that would benefit teachers working in charter schools. In May 2012, for instance, CTU mounted a “furious campaign” (their words) against state House Bill 4227, which moved to equalize the funding charter and district schools receive. If the CTU were truly invested in the needs of teachers at charter schools, it would not launch a crusade to hurt the very teachers it now claim it want to help.
So, if the CTU opposes the very existence of charter schools and laws that would benefit charter school teachers, why is it interested in being the sole…