For School Unions, Palm Lane Charter Fight Is All About Union Membership

According to sources who attended yesterday’s CSEA-sponsored “parent information meeting” at Palm Lane Park, the free-food-and-drinks event was attended by a couple of dozen union members (primarily CSEA members) and about 20 parents (half of whom were supporters of converting the school into an independent public charter school).

Retired Sen. Gloria Romero of the Center for Parent Empowerment was there and had the opportunity to converse with the featured speaker, OC Labor Federation Executive Director Julio Perez. When Romero asked why the unions were opposing the Palm Lane charter petition, Perez replied it was because teachers and staff “wouldn’t be protected” – i.e., they wouldn’t necessarily be union members.

There’s no requirement for charter school employees to be unionized, but neither is it prohibited. The employees of the 21 California charter schools operated by Green Dot Public Schools are unionized. Last year, teachers at a charter school in Massachusetts voted to join to join the local Teamsters union; according to Education Week, this was because “staff members, worried by anti-charter sentiments, feared they wouldn’t get fair representation from the local teachers’ union.”

Presently, Palm Lane Elementary employees are union members, but that might not be the case if the school re-starts as an independent public charter school. The Anaheim Elementary Education Association (AEEA) and the California School Employees Association, like other unions, are businesses: they’re in the membership business. Fewer members means less revenue.

AEEA and CSEA weren’t organizing all these “parent information meetings” last year, when Palm Lane Elementary parents were knocking on doors and asking other parents to sign the Parent Trigger law petition and when it might have had an impact on whether the petitioners could gather sufficient signatures. Now, facing the prospect of a charter school in which the employees night not be bargaining unit members, union activists have pulled out the stops to try and discredit the charter petition.

Many of the same unionists who were at Palm Lane Park yesterday were standing outside of the school this afternoon, trying to convince parents they have been misled about the charter school petition and what it means:

Unionists in from of PLE

Nearly 70% of Palm Lane Elementary School parents signed the Parent Trigger petition, and believe converting their school to charter status offers their children and future Palm Lane Elementary students a superior opportunity to obtain a better education.  That should be the primary consideration here, not how re-starting Palm Lane as a charter will impact membership in the AEEA and CSEA.

5 comments

  1. Thank you for your support and telling the truth of what really is happening. These union members are misleading our community by telling lies. All we want is for our kids to have a quality education and that has not happened and is not happenig atvpalm lane. Our children need to be doing things at grade level but they are not even doing that. Many people from palm lane have transfered their children to other schools seeking a better education. We spoke to Loretta Sanchez district director, Gus Castellanos, Julio Perez and other school employees really told them why we as parents want to convert pur school into a charter. We really thought that after talking to us they would understand us. All we want is the best for our children but how can they understand if all they care is about their union people. ACSD has failed our children and we want to be left alone. We brought our concerns to the district in many occasions but we were never acknowledge. Stop harassing us all we want is a quality education for our children

    • I am a retired teacher, mother, and grandmother. We all want what is best for our children. That being said, I believe there are some misconceptions about what teachers and schools can accomplish. I have taught nearly every grade level in elementary school, and never once did I have all students enter the classroom at their current grade level. My job as a fourth grade teacher was to teach fourth grade. I couldn’t do that if I had students entering the class reading at a 1st grade level. I was unable to magically teach 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades in the 9 months of school, even though I worked very hard to do so. In addition, there is strong research that supports the fact that education is a joint effort between home and school. When you add in the fact that many students are second language learners, it is an even bigger job that must be shared with parents and schools. What concerns me is the fact that many seem to believe that a conversion to a charter school is going to solve a much larger issue. The students and teachers will still face the same challenges. It sickens me to think that students are required to take state tests to measure their proficiency, even if they don’t speak a word of English. Did you know that the current testing requires students who are developmentally disabled to also take the test? So students in special education classes and those who have special needs are given the tests. The same people who represent you at the state level–at one time Retired Senator Romero and now Senator Huff–should be more concerned with fighting a system that pigeon holes students, don’t you think?

      My granddaughter attends a public charter school, so I am not opposed to the idea. While it is “open” to all in the attendance area, not all were granted admittance. She does not live in the area, nor do many of the students who attend there. In fact, only a handful of students live in the neighborhood. It has been my experience that charter schools are typically smaller than public schools. Palm Lane is a relatively large school, and I imagine if it is converted to a charter, enrollment numbers will be capped at a much lower number than would accommodate all of the current students. One of the main reasons her parents chose to have her apply and test for the school was because of the academic requirements to attend, as well as, the strict behavioral requirements.

      Parents need to make whatever decision works best for their individual situations. Part of being well informed is understanding that there are generally three sides to every story. The parties in favor of the charter, those not in favor of the charter, and the truth.

  2. After attending this event I am more convinced that we need to form a Charter school with the best interests of our children in mind.

    Julio Perez was kind and genuine. But completely ignorant to our concerns. The parents and children were treated like pawns.

    Well guess what at the end of the game Julio the Kings (union bosses) and the pawns ( the families) go back in the same box.

    It will take more than FREE hot dogs to buy us!

  3. CSEA is the administrators union. Charter schools mean less administrators, more teachers, therefore more dollars that go to the classroom. Efficient spending enables things like more instructional minutes per year for TK, which tonight the district is voting (right after the Palm Lane petition) to beg the state to shortchange their children so that they can spend the money on administrators.

  4. The California Teachers Association has been criticized for its role in the Palm Lane controversy. As a former CTA member, I did not join voluntarily; membership was a condition of employment, just as my membership in the Teamster’s Union was required to drive a jungle boat at Disneyland. I do not believe, however, that CTA’s interest in Palm Lane is the potential loss of union dues.

    During a decade of teaching in public schools, I never regarded CTA as a union: Unlike CTA, a real labor union has the right to strike. CTA has principally focused on controlling public education in California, acting in ways that benefit CTA but not necessarily the interests of students or teachers. When has CTA proposed any plan to improve instruction, curricula, or public education in general for California’s schools? Converting Palm Lane Elementary School to a charter school is an act of seizing control. What its organizers expect to control is anyone’s guess.

    Does converting Palm Lane to a charter school offer “a superior opportunity to obtain a better education”? No. Student achievement in the vast majority of charter schools is usually less than student performance in public schools. Read the latest research findings for yourself from the National Charter School Study 2013: http://tinyurl.com/npr5wq6.

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