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Move to unionize at Philly charter school blocked, teachers say

by Kevin McCorry for NewsWorks

Claims that the company running the Olney Charter High School tried to intimidate teachers who sought to unionize may be heading for a hearing.

Hanako Franz teaches 9th-grade history at Olney Charter High School, which became an non-unionized charter run by Aspira in 2011 -- Franz's first year of teaching.

Over the next two years, Franz says, the administration made many decisions -- some she says to the detriment of children's education -- without consulting with the teaching staff.

From there came the idea to form a union.

"We do want to have a legal right to a voice at our school and we want to be a part of decisions that get made," Franz said. "We understand that changes sometimes have to happen and change isn't always bad, but we just want to be a part of that process."

Like all teachers at Olney, Franz is employed on an "at-will" basis, without due process protections for being fired.

Read the rest of this story at NewsWorks

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Comments (14)

Submitted by Phillip Aiken (not verified) on August 8, 2013 5:50 pm
This is a shame! These teachers have done the job! If you live in around Olney you can see the change ! These teachers have shown that they care and they want what any person wants! They want job security and stability! They are going to do what they have done to the public school teachers , kill their spirit. They are going to feel more unappreciated and who will lose the students and the cycle will continue!
Submitted by Joe K. (not verified) on August 8, 2013 7:26 pm
Philip--You are right. They don't care about the kids. They don't care about the teachers' lives and families. ALL the operators and crooked pols care about is how much money they can drain from the government. Overhead, like livable salaries and benefits, are NOT going to maximize their profit margin. Unions demand fairness in worker rights, something else of which these bullies want no part. "The PEOPLE are going to have fight this in a HUGE way and by any means necessary.
Submitted by activist (not verified) on August 8, 2013 7:12 pm
CHARTERS ARE CORRUPT THEYLL NEVER SUPPORT A UNION..... N GUESS WHAT CAMELOT HAS CONTRACT WITH ASPIRA WHERES THE POLITRICKIANS WHEN U NEED EM
Submitted by Muscle Rev Xtreme (not verified) on August 13, 2013 2:41 pm
The other day, while I was at work, my sister stole my apple ipad and tested to see if it can survive a 40 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now destroyed and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had to share it with someone!
Submitted by tom-104 on August 8, 2013 8:23 pm
Your are right about charters! Read this article in City Paper: Indictments Are Expected in School Probe, But No Sign of Reform http://tinyurl.com/jvomy6y The article ends with this: "At the end, there wasn’t much left to steal. In June 2012, days before the District terminated its contract, an ominous line was entered in the school’s financial logs: “$25,000 - Billing - DOJ Investigation.” That represented a retainer for law firm Ballard Spahr.  A source claims Shulick pocketed $2 million in 2011 alone from four different DVHS schools he ran. In three years of operation, the District never audited DVHS-Kelly’s finances. Gallard says the District doesn’t audit these contracts. He says the City Controller is supposed to audit the finances of every school — including alternative schools — once a year. But Harvey Rice, the controller’s chief of staff, says his office has never been allowed to audit any alternative or charter schools.  “The School District has been very resistant in allowing us to conduct compliance audits of their individual contracts,” Rice says."
Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on August 8, 2013 8:21 pm
PCCY, Urban League, NAACP stand with these anti-union thugs.
Submitted by Joan Taylor on August 8, 2013 10:55 pm
People are looking for an easy target. What could be easier than pointing to a discrete group (teachers) and punishing them (pay and benefits cut)? It's so much easier than addressing the cynicism and greed of corporate America, with its contempt for anyone who lacks the political muscle to design its own tax dodges.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 9, 2013 3:46 am
I hope the teachers at Olney get union recognition for a contract. Just like years back workers had to fight tooth and nail to get rights and form unions, (as a nation we are regressing unfortunately) same has to be done here and hopefully get all other unions to work in solidarity to help them out. BTW, if the PFT's last contract was done right and Jerry Jordan wasn't remiss in making sure he had this in writing all Renaissance Schools (turnaround schools) could have still been part of the union, like when Foundation, Edison, and so on managed schools. Jordan is responsible for the loss of hundreds of union teaching jobs due to this omission.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 9, 2013 8:48 am
Seriously, $17,000 of taxpayer's money spent by Olney Charter to suppress teacher's voices should be paid back to the school district. I don't want my tax dollars spent on that BS, while services are cut from my child's school. Let those teachers form a union. It is their right!!
Submitted by Rich Migliore (not verified) on August 9, 2013 9:05 am
Yes the amount of taxpayer money that is wasted on needless litigation because of charter schools is disgraceful. Some charter operators spend large amounts of taxpayer money defending their illegal actions. So does the School District. They spend millions wasted on needless litigation. When a charter school is closed, the taxpayers foot the bill for both sides of the litigation which can be endless. The Pennsylvania Charter School Law is one of the worst in the nation. It was written by Charles Zogby, Corbett's budget guy. Zogby wrote it specifically to bust the PFT and to allow for the full privatization of the Pennsylvania's schools. It even allows "for-profit" entities like Mosaica to found charter schools and manage it for profit. They can even found as many charter schools like that as they want. I have witnessed Zogby in action. He is scary. He only wants to "break up" the School District of Philadelphia and the PFT. Looks ominous to me.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 11, 2013 10:40 am
Who started the litigation? That money should be deducted from the teachers' pay who started the trouble to begin with.
Submitted by Brian Lutz (not verified) on August 9, 2013 9:52 am
Mysteriously teachers at some Pa cyber schools are " laying off teachers". For no reason or for manufactured reasons. The positions are posted to fill in a few weeks. I have testaments from former teachers at Pa Leadership Cyber Charter School (PALCS) regarding this. I am a retired cyber school teacher. Is this a coincidence that there was an attempt to unionize---- doubt they are the only ones doing this? They are terminated on other grounds, but the underlying premise is suspicion of unionizing. Historically the purpose of tenure or teacher's union has been to protect teachers but also give them a voice in improving the system. Teachers in the current charter school environment need some protection, but really need to be able to give input into the charter school system. It is only through teacher input that charter schools and cyber charter schools will be truly innovative.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 11, 2013 10:52 am
Collective bargaining by public sector workers should be outlawed entirely. It is against the public interest.
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on August 11, 2013 10:56 am
Sounds like fascism to me!

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