DC charter school educators vote to unionize

Stephon Johnson | 5/23/2019, midnight
Educators at a bilingual charter in the nation’s capital voted to unionize.
classroom/education Pexels

Educators at a bilingual charter in the nation’s capital voted to unionize.

Educators at the Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., the first “green” public charter school, voted by a 3-to-1 margin to unionize in a National Labor Relations Board election held on the school’s campus.

“While we teach our kids about social justice and equity, we do not always experience it ourselves,” stated kindergarten teacher Andrea Molina. “Our teachers and staff are a strong, dedicated team; they work around the clock to make our school an amazing place to teach and learn and to set an example for other schools in the district. Our victory tonight will ensure we are treated with the dignity and respect that reflects the commitment we each have made to our school.”

Teachers and staff want to have a bigger voice in decisions made by the school administration and want the additional investment and resources for the school’s students required to do so. Mundo Verde, located in the Truxton Circle neighborhood, is the second charter school in D.C. to organize.

The 115 teachers and staff will be represented by the District of Columbia Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, which is affiliated with the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers. The AFT is the nation’s second-largest teachers union, and has worked alongside other unions to organize nearly 12 percent of the charter schools in this country.

“It’s so fitting the educators at Mundo Verde voted overwhelmingly for a union during National Charter Schools Week,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten in a statement. “Charters were supposed to be incubators, enabling parents and educators to have more of a role in students’ education, not competitors with public schools. And that’s what the educators at Mundo Verde want—an active role in the decision-making process at this school.”

According to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, close to 7,000 charter schools serve over 3 million students in the country. The AFT represents more than 240 charter schools in 15 states and the District of Columbia.

Fourth-grade lead teacher Dani McCormick said: “I’m ecstatic that teachers and staff have demonstrated our spirit of collaboration and commitment to equity; we now have a real opportunity to be better advocates for our students and school community in the effort to make Mundo Verde the best version of itself.”

Following the vote, Mundo Verde educators are looking to bargain their first contract with the school’s administration and hoping to get administrative transparency and accountability, more resources and time to identify and address student needs and address the high teacher attrition rate, which was close to 30 percent the previous school year.

“Like so many other educators, teachers at Mundo Verde believe that having a say in how their school is run and being treated with dignity and respect are good not only for them, but also good for their students,” added Weingarten. “They know the union is an important vehicle for having a voice at work and helping meet the needs of students. I just got off the phone after talking to some of these educators, and am so proud of them and their devotion to the students and to each other.”