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.