Only as one body, one united force of workers and citizens of a country dominated by a Soviet-servile government did Poland stand up against tyranny and do their part to bring an end to their oppression.

The banner they united under was solidarity: one solid unity that would not bend, would not break.

Today, in the United States, we face a similar crisis. There is hot debate among traditional public school teachers as to whether we should unite with fellow teachers working for charter schools, admit them to our unions or support them in organizing their own unions, or stand apart.

There are valid arguments on all sides.

But Solidarity, that unifying cry, should make us all think.

Only in union can we bring the forces of privatization and ruination to heel. Only in union can we fight for fair wages, decent working conditions, and safe schools. Only in union can we fight against the depersonalization of the learning environment.

In union, we can fight together. In union, we can insist that charter teachers have the same qualifications and certifications as traditional school teachers. AND for that, charter teachers should be compensated the same as traditional school teachers, not only in commensurate salary, but in health insurance and pension benefits.

In union, we can stop the Devoses, the Kochs, the Gates, the Zuckerbergs, the Lauren Jobs, the Reeds, oh the list is long, from stomping public education into the ground.

It’s not the fault of charter teachers that they decided a charter gig was their next option. Some teachers pass back and forth during their careers. Some are driven out in small districts so that a charter is their only option for employment.

I have many teacher friends who tried a charter. Most of them are moving from chain to chain as they find each charter less than desirable in the working conditions.

Solidarity.

It comes down to economics. Charters survive and thrive as their business plans work. That means suppressing teacher wages, terrible working conditions, and turnover.

What happens when the teachers organize and strike for a fair deal? The charter become less profitable to the point where the business plan fails, the school closes, and the students return to traditional schools. The certified (qualified) teachers will follow.

Traditional public ed teachers, unionization is the way to end the charter travesty. We need to support our colleagues. Solidarity!

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