Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I always read The Chalkboard, a pro-charter blog written by Joe Williams. I have mixed feelings about charters, and each time I lean one way, something pushes me the other.

Today Joe writes about Nicole Byrne Lau, who used to work for Williamsburgh Charter School. Ms. Lau says she was fired for distributing info about how much UFT teachers make. The school claims they let her go because she's a child-hating racist.

That's an odd conclusion for them to have reached. As recently as May, her evaluation stated those kids she purportedly hates so much were "lucky to have you as their teacher."

Joe makes the valid point that charters may pay more than public schools, and that seeing the UFT pay chart might actually turn off some teachers from the notion of unionization. Of course, that being the case, why shouldn't Ms. Lau pass around the chart to her heart's content? Well, that's because the charter (which clearly must pay less than UFT schools) is an "at-will" employer, meaning they can terminate her for any reason, or indeed for no reason.

Too bad her colleagues haven't unionized. They should.

I gotta say the 5K above UFT scale Eva Moskowitz proposes to pay teachers would hardly induce me to work for her. Frankly, the prospect of being at her beck and call makes me want to retch. Aside from the additional time Mistress Eva would undoubtedly require, I also wonder whether or not employees of charters receive health benefits, the value of which far exceeds her apparent largesse.

Now regular readers of this blog may note that I occasionally criticize Unity, the monopoly party that rules the UFT, as its view of democracy and mine do not precisely concur. However, I'm absolutely cognizant of the fact that my 80,000 colleagues and I would be far, far worse off without a union.

All workers benefit from unionization. There's no way that my voice (however beautiful my mother may think it is) competes with that of 80,000 New York City teachers facing down Joel Klein's efforts to Walmartize education. When we work to improve the lots of working people, we work to help our kids too.

Let's take the gag off Ms. Lau and support unions, so as keep such implements far away from our children.

Update: You really ought to read what Leo Casey on Edwize has to say about this. Among other things, Ms. Lau has landed on her feet, with a job at Brooklyn Tech, and swears never to work another non-union job again.
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