Supermajority of Staff at Paul Public Charter School Push for Collective Representation
In a historic first for the District of Columbia, a decisive majority of educators at Paul Public Charter School have signed a formal petition asking the school’s governing board to recognize their union.
Organizing under the newly formed District of Columbia Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, educators approached school management today to present the petition for recognition under federal labor law. Three-quarters of Paul staff signed the petition with the aim of improving resources for students and gaining a voice in school decisions.
About half of all D.C. K-12 students attend charters; however, currently no D.C. charter school has educators represented by a labor union. DCACTS is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers. The AFT represents charter educators at 229 schools across 15 states.
Educators at Paul are committed to student success. They know that having a real voice through bargaining a contract is instrumental to achieving that goal in the long term.
Paul social studies department chair and high school teacher David Koenig said: “We need a union at Paul in order to improve resources for kids and provide teachers with stability and an effective voice to help bring about improvements to our school’s culture. We need a union at Paul because every school in this country needs a teachers’ union; every school needs a stable workforce and a way for people to act collectively to protect working conditions and resist the forces of privatization, standardization and segregation that are gradually eroding our public education system.”
Katrina Foster, a Paul special education teacher, said: “Unions are important in an educational environment to support professionalism, check administrative power, and equalize the reward and discipline system for employees.”
Dr. Renee Neely, a Paul counselor, said: “Unions help to mediate and keep things fair in the workplace. Unions are merely a voice for the voiceless, and everyone deserves to be heard.”
Malcolm Magwood, a Paul instructional assistant, said: “Unions are the only powerful and effective voice that working people have ever had.”
Washington Teachers’ Union President Elizabeth Davis said: “The staff at Paul want to have a genuine say in the way their school functions. They love their school, and they want to see it and their students succeed. Students thrive when teachers are able to advocate for them without fear and when teachers can share their ideas and concerns openly with their administration. Joining together as a union provides teachers the security they need to do their job effectively.”
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said: “Charter school educators are raising their voices throughout the country to improve teaching and learning conditions. Constructive relationships between teachers and management in union charter schools are a key to safe, welcoming environments for students. To educators, ‘union’ means voice. ‘Union’ means the freedom to speak up, based on a deep knowledge of student needs. We encourage the Paul administration to recognize the enthusiastic majority of new DCACTS members who will bring a powerful classroom- and student-centered vision to contract negotiations.”