I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Hey Charter Schools: Get Your Own Week

This has been bugging me all week:

National Teacher Day dates back to at least the 1950s, although expressions of thanks to teachers are as old as apples. In 1985, the NEA's assembly voted to make the first week in May Teacher Appreciation Week.

This is a truly meaningful time for both teachers and parents. I've worked in several schools over the years, and the pot-luck lunches and gift baskets and cards and verbal "thank you's" go a long way toward boosting staff morale in schools. Considering the beatdown we teachers have been taking over the last few years, it really means a lot to have parents and students express their appreciation for our work.

But guess who else is celebrating this week? The charter schools.

The earliest reference I can find about an official Charter Schools Week is back in 2002, when Congress passed a resolution 10 years after the first charter was founded. That's well past the time when Teacher Appreciation Week was established.

Look, I don't have a problem with a Charter Schools Week per se. Again, I started my career in a charter school. I think they have their place, even if I think many in the charter industry are less than honest about whether they actually "do more with less." But, by all means, please go ahead and have your week; you're entitled to it.

But don't do it during our week.

Because this week was always for teachers, and there's no way the charter cheerleaders didn't know they were stepping all over our week when they started their week. Why else would they put their week on ours if not to be provocative? Or did they really think we wouldn't notice?

And what about their own staffs? Don't teachers in charter schools deserve their own special moment of appreciation, separate from any celebration of the entire charter movement itself? Why can't charter school teachers be honored as our fellow educators, separated from whatever activities the sector wants to do to promote itself?

Let me clean this up for the kids: putting Charter Schools Week at the same time as Teacher Appreciation Week is a jerk move.

Get your own week; we were here first.

A what move?

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