Teachers and staff at a D.C. charter school voted Thursday to unionize, the first time a charter in the District has taken such a step.
The educators at Cesar Chavez Public Charter School at Chavez Prep Middle School in Northwest voted 31 to 2 to form a union, which they say will help secure more resources for students, give them a say in school decision-making and create job security.
“We’re excited for the opportunity to work alongside our school board and our principal to make a school that we’re really proud of into the envy of the district,” Christian Herr, a science teacher, said in a written statement.
Chavez Prep Principal Kourtney Miller said the school’s board and leadership do not plan to fight the unionization effort. They plan to begin collective bargaining soon.
“I am proud of the work we have done as a team this year, and I look forward to increasing that collaboration,” Miller said.
Most charter schools in D.C. and across the country are not unionized. Charter advocates often argue that not having a union allows them to experiment with teacher pay and work schedules, such as having a longer school year.
But some charters, like Chavez Prep, are taking a different approach. The American Federation of Teachers said it now represents 234 charter schools nationwide, including Chavez.
Miller said she hopes the formation of the union will not take away the school’s flexibility on hiring teachers and selecting curriculum.
“We enjoy our flexibility, and take pride in that,” Miller said.