November 27, 2008

TEACHERS UNIONIZE AT MASSACHUSETTS CHARTER SCHOOL

James Vaznis, Boston Globe - In between violin and voice lessons, teachers at the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Brighton have organized into a union, the first-ever at a Massachusetts charter school. The decision by the 20 teachers at this small elementary school is considered significant in the state's 15-year-old charter movement, which was based, in part, on allowing administrators to pursue innovative teaching methods without union intervention.

The Conservatory Lab teachers will be tapping a formidable partner as they negotiate their first contract: the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts. The federation, which also represents the powerful Boston Teachers Union, is one of the state's staunchest critics of charter schools.

"We don't want to stand in the way of innovation, but it's important that it is done with teachers and not to teachers," said Tom Gosnell, the federation's state president. "Unionizing will enable these teachers to have a more persuasive voice in what is best educationally for their students. . . . I know the faculty there now likes the school a great deal, and they are interested in the school achieving and doing well.". . .

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