By Victor Skinner
DEVON, Pa. – Teachers at the Agora Cyber Charter School recently voted down the chance to unionize, despite extensive recruitment efforts by the Pennsylvania State Education Association.
The state teachers union “instituted a major campaign last fall, creating a website and an online forum for those involved to debate back and forth. Agora responded with its own website, highlighting the PSEA’s less-than-friendly attitude about cyber schools,” according to the education reform blog Intercepts.
The results were close, with 200 employees voting to join the PSEA and 214 objecting.
Parents and students of Agora should breathe a sigh of relief because union officials will not have their hand in school operations. PSEA’s history shows that its union contracts typically result in higher operating costs for schools.
Non-union schools also have more flexibility to tailor their programs to student needs because they’re not bound by the picky provisions of typical union contracts. In traditional public schools, union rules control everything from the length of the school day and staff assignments to the paint color in the teachers’ lounge.
But the best part is that Agora families will not be held hostage by union strikes that have plagued PSEA-staffed public schools across the state. No school infighting, no nasty picket signs or work stoppages. Agora’s focus will remain on what matters most – student learning.
The teachers of Agora may a very wise and unselfish choice.