Morty Rosenfeld, President of the Plainview-Old Bethpage (New York) Congress of Teachers, strikes again, this time on the subject of charter schools. I am struck by the straight talk offered by this teacher union president:
"During two recent union leadership meetings I attended, the subject of charter schools was on the agenda. More specifically, both bodies were discussing legislative proposals to curb the growth of charter schools in New York State. But absent from any of the union discussion of charter schools that I am aware of is a clearly mapped out agenda for the improvement of the public schools. When I suggested that a more potent defense against the growth of charter schools was a union agenda to fix the public schools that went beyond the need for more money, a falling pin would have broken the tensely rapt silence...Unless and until education unions militantly organize around an agenda for improving the public schools, an agenda that offers hope to students imprisoned in objectively failing schools and their parents, the peddlers of alternatives to public schools will appeal to segments of the public who desperately yearn for schools that will equip their children with the skills to obtain a better life."
Would that more leaders within the unions had the integrity of Mr. Rosenfeld. Teacher unions are in a unique position to put innovative ideas on the table to reform public schools. School choice could be one of them.
Matthew Ladner is Director of State Projects at the Alliance for School Choice and a Senior Fellow at the Goldwater Institute.