Volume 88, Number 4

October 2013

Unionized Charter School Contracts as a Model for Reform of Public School Job Security

Peter Kauffman

To have a strong public education system, it is imperative to recruit and maintain high-caliber public school teachers and ensure that school administrators can terminate underperformers. Teachers unions have contributed to this effort by increasing professionalism in teaching and giving teachers a role in school management, but they have also detracted from it by making it too difficult to terminate incompetent teachers. Nonunionized charter schools that employ teachers at will, on the other hand, may leave teachers vulnerable to arbitrary or malicious terminations. Unionized charter schools, a relatively recent phenomenon, produce teacher contracts that, as the result of labor negotiations between two prominent players in education, could provide valuable lessons for reform to the American public education system. This Note’s analysis of contracts from the unionized charter schools in New York City reveals that they provide teachers with more job protection than employment at will but far less than provided in the public school union contract. Traditional public schools and unions should reform their collective bargaining agreements to provide a level of job security similar to that in the unionized charter school contracts. This may create the right balance between allowing principals to terminate incompetent teachers and protecting teachers from arbitrary or malicious terminations.