Commentary: The L.A. Teachers Union Has Been Trying to Organize Our Charter School for 3 Years. It’s Enough. We’re Not Interested.
We, two public school teachers in Los Angeles, made a choice to teach at Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, the largest public charter network in Los Angeles. It was a deliberate decision rooted in our desire to make a life-changing difference in children’s lives, particularly children from traditionally disadvantaged communities. For both of us, this is personal. We grew up in similar communities and know the transformative power of great public schools like ours, which graduate virtually every student from high school and are engaged in innovative programs to support college matriculation and completion.
Teaching isn’t easy, and working at Alliance means having high expectations for ourselves and for all 13,000 of our scholars, including the majority who come to us significantly behind grade level, those who have special needs, and the high achievers whom we must keep engaged and motivated.
For the past three years, our jobs have been made even more difficult by a high-pressure unionization campaign by United Teachers Los Angeles targeting hundreds of teachers on Alliance’s 28 campuses. As we pass the third anniversary of this campaign, it is time for it to end. We are calling on the union to leave our schools, our fellow teachers, and our scholars alone.
We have shown up to school every day for three years unsure if we would be accosted by organizers bent on creating a divisive environment in our school, or if they’d be waiting in the parking lot to corner us as we headed home. Union organizers have even shown up at teachers’ homes after hours and during school breaks. They have spent an enormous amount of energy telling us not to trust our school leaders or members of the Alliance home office support team.
And while they try to organize our schools into their union, they push for state legislation to make it easier to close our schools and demonize charter schools like ours to their own members, which tells you how they really feel about us.
At Alliance, we cherish our small schools and our small class sizes, and we are grateful for the support of our school leaders and network staff. We love the rigorous work environment where teachers continually ask themselves, “What can I do better?” We have a collaborative workplace where our voices are heard and welcomed — if we want to implement a change, we know how to make that happen. We can share our opinions with our school leaders, with the home office support teams, and directly with the Alliance CEO.
In the Alliance spirit of respect, our educators have listened to the union for three years. We’ve attended its meetings, allowed union representatives in our classrooms after school, and tolerated the above-mentioned home visits. But after three years, after learning as much as we can, we educators have deemed that the union is not a good fit for us. We don’t need it to give us a voice or to negotiate for us. And, given the union’s strong anti-charter rhetoric and political priorities, we don’t think it would be a good representative for us.
It’s time for the union to turn its attention to serving the teachers who chose to be members. We ask UTLA to please end its three-year disruptive campaign at Alliance — respect our decision, and let us focus on teaching.
Daisy Jauregui and Cynthia Hacha are math teachers at Alliance Morgan McKinzie High School, a charter school in Los Angeles.
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