Teaching Profession

Boston’s First Union-Run Public School Ready for Business

By Stephen Sawchuk — September 09, 2009 1 min read

A teacher-run public school (take note: not a public charter school) is poised to open its doors in Boston this year as one of the few such schools in the nation.

The school is run by two teacher-leaders rather than a single principal. According to a release from the Boston Teachers Union, the union agreed with the Boston school board to waive some contract provisions for “greater flexibility,” although it doesn’t specify what they are.

A few other states, notably Minnesota, are also interested in a similar concept, per my earlier blog entry here. In that state’s case, the schools aren’t officially run by the union, but the teachers in it would be unionized and operate according to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

My question is very much the same I had in the Minnesota example. It’s all well and good to say that you’re committed to shared decisionmaking, but what happens when teachers in the school have different opinions? Will the teacher-leaders step up to make an executive decision? Will other teachers start to view them as “management” or even grow to resent them? Or will this really lead to better labor dynamics in the school?

Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, likes to say that contracts and agreements of this nature, as well as charters, are ways of piloting innovative labor-management ideas. The BTU and the AFT get major props for trying things like this out. I just wonder if they will end up liking the results.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.