Union Organizing Drive at Philadelphia Charter School: Watch This Space

As Sean Kitchen reported last week, administrators and principles of the Olney Charter High School in Philadelphia is harassing teachers in an attempt to break their efforts to organize a union. Teachers are organizing as a chapter of Philadelphia Alliance of Charter School Employees, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

Olney Charter High School is run by ASPIRA. According to its website ASPIRA is the “only national Hispanic organization dedicated exclusively to developing the educational and leadership capacity of Hispanic youth.¬†¬†Since 1961, ASPIRA has been working at the grass-roots level to provide programs that encourage Hispanic students to stay in school, prepare them to succeed in the educational arena, develop their leadership skills, and to serve their community.” While this is certainly a noble mission, ASPIRA has a history of conflict with teachers. As reported on the blog Crooks and Liars in June 2013,

ASPIRA, a non-profit organization, has committed $400,000 to fight back against any effort on the part of teachers to organize in the schools they manage. In a climate where schools in Philadelphia are closing on a daily basis, a not-for-profit charter school operator is committing nearly half a million dollars? That raises a couple of key questions for me. Who is funding that battle on behalf of ASPIRA and why aren’t they spending those funds on educating children?

Sean will be following teachers ongoing struggle to form a union and gain a voice at the table to ensure quality education is front and center at Olney Charter High School. Here are some of the teachers explaining in their own words why they are organizing a union:


Keep an eye on this space for Sean Kitchen’s reporting.


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About Editor, Raging Chicken Press 483 Articles
Kevin Mahoney is the Founder and Editor Zero of Raging Chicken Press. When he's not rabble-rousing on Raging Chicken, he's teaching rhetoric and writing at Kutztown University.

7 Comments on Union Organizing Drive at Philadelphia Charter School: Watch This Space

  1. Are you sure ASPIRA is not-for-profit or is it “non profit”? The charter schools I know of are all making big bucks off our public schools. They use the excess money derived from the money extracted from the local public school for advertising, recruiting and huge paychecks for the CEOs. Charter schools, unless operated inside the actual public school or intermediate unit, are corporate, privatized, intruders. They seek profit. It is like saying the “non profit” Blue Cross is a public entity and makes no money. Blue Cross actually has zillions of dollars in “reserves,” a technical term. I love unions, but to unionize profit-first charter schools is to justify their existence. We should be mindful of the tools of the privatization crowd—vouchers, for-profit charters and cyber charters, and the standardized tests which were designed to label schools “failing” so the public begins to believe their local school is inadequate–when the facts are the opposite and people largely like their schools….even in the urban areas where the privatizers have begun their corporate “takeover.” NOTE: Charters are not subjected to the same rigorous testing nor other standards as public schools. Apples and oranges, ya know!

    For the tests that do apply in PA, 71% of charters and NO cyber charters meet the AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress educational standard). PA taxpayers spent $700 million last year on failing charter and cyber charter schools. Check you local school district’s costs for these privatized, profit-seeking intruders.

  2. So, they do make “profits” apparently. As Crooks and Liars alludes to, where are they getting $400,000 to wage war against employees seeking to unionize? A not-for-profit school would truly be a “public” school and no public school would have funds to fight unions. A non-profit is not a “not-for-profit” institution, is it??

  3. The difference between a for-profit and a non-profit organization is the for-profit is a publically traded(listed on the stock market)corporation and answers to its stockholders…a non-profit is not publically traded, but is backed by foundations such as WalMart, the Gates, Bushies, Amway, Broads, Bloomberg and other wealthy individuals. and the billionaire crowd. There is plenty of “taxpayer” $$$ to be made by these so called “non-profits”…the money just goes to individuals rather than investors.

    The unfortunate idea is that the organizations that represent public school employees (AFT/PSEA) want to “organize” the teachers who now work for this non-profit and compete for public $$$ at the local school district where they represent public employees in public schools and private employees in “charter” schools. AFT/PSEA are shameless…they can no serve two masters…they are only serving themselves!

    • Eh, I don’t see them being “shameless.” I see them trying to protect workers in a non-unionized shop and they can’t let teachers sit and rot in a non-unionized environment. However, I do see the Democrats – the Rham Emanuels, the Cory Bookers, and other 3rd Way Democrats – as the ones who are shameless. The teachers in Philadelphia are fighting against privatization, but when the mayor and governor are using teachers as pawns for disaster capitalism they don’t have a leg to stand on. On the unions end of things, this is a result of not organizing for the past 30 years and deciding to play politics in city councils and state capitols. They should be in the streets not in the state houses.

  4. Thanks for the clarification. I agree–they are shameless and serving themselves–otherwise these unions would be fighting to keep our schools truly public, not allow profit-seeking corporations and so-called non-profit groups to engineer a hostile takeover of the public’s schools. Charter school advertisements get away with calling themselves “public” schools when in fact they are private or corporate schools funded with the public’s money. That’s a sham, to me.

  5. Correction: Comment #1 above: I meant to say 71% of PA charter schools do not meet the AYP. And, yes, 100% of cyber charters do not meet the AYP. Readers: Be sure to ask your local superintendent how much money your district spends/sends to charter and cyber charter “schools.”

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