I'm a little late to the party writing about the UFT K-8 charter school that will be shutting down in June. NYC Educator and Ed Notes have already beat me to the punch by posting on this topic today. I can only add a little personal note to their stories since I remember the Executive Board meeting when we voted on the UFT starting a charter school. I was the sole dissenting voice that evening.
The UFT charter school came up for a vote at the Executive Board during a time period between 2003 and 2004 when opposition caucus New Action was solidifying their alliance with the dominant Unity Caucus. New Action's high school "opposition" representatives started going with the Unity party line on just about every topic. The exceptions were my close friend to this day Ed Beller and me however on the subject of the UFT starting a charter school, Ed was with the leadership. Therefore, I was alone so UFT President Randi Weingarten was poised to ridicule me.
I recall vividly being called on after the usual Unity sycophants praised the charter school. I spoke out against the UFT running a charter school because we would have difficulty publically opposing the expansion of charter schools if the union was running one and money would be siphoned away from an already cash strapped public school system to charters. Randi stopped me in mid-sentence that evening and argued that I was making an argument against private school vouchers and not charter schools but I stuck to my position. After our debate, I think I was the lone no vote. A UFT charter school was a no-win proposition. If it succeeded, the press would see it as a victory for charter schools. If it did not work out, it would be seen as union failure. That's what is occurring now.
Being opposed to all charter schools on principle, not just some we don't like, is a position I am quite honored to have stood up for as a lone wolf at the UFT Executive Board.
Now that the UFT's K-8 charter school is closing, do you think Randi Weingarten will be getting in touch with me to say that maybe I had a point? I don't think so either.