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New Study on Unionized Charter Schools

As we have reported here and here, a relatively small proportion of charters are unionized—only about 12% of public charter schools. Over 60% of the unionized charter schools are bound by state law to the local school district’s collective bargaining agreement. But there are a number of charter schools that unionized by design or by a vote among teachers. A new study from CRPE digs into these union contracts to explore whether contracts designed by charter schools are more innovative than the local school district’s contracts. While union contracts developed from scratch have the potential to provide more flexibility to school leadership, the study finds only modest modifications in policies around teacher hiring, firing, layoffs, and basic work rules regarding the use of teacher time. However, the modest modifications do allow for union contracts that are more likely to reflect the charter school’s mission and vision. But this still begs the question, if collective bargaining agreements in charter schools reflect the school’s mission, does it provide a necessary protection or an impediment for innovation?