New Haven · Students

Are State Teachers’ Unions Gunning to Halt Charter Schools?

Parents Rally

How much does it cost to get state legislators to ignore the calls of thousands of parents?

Apparently, for the two largest teachers unions, around $6,500.

According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, a state campaign finance watchdog website, and state finance filings, that’s the amount of direct campaign contributions collectively received by seven of the eighteen sponsors and co-sponsors of a recently proposed bill that would place a moratorium on new charter schools.

Keep in mind, that $6,500 doesn’t count the tens of thousands of dollars fueled by AFT-CT and CEA into Senate and House Democratic coffers.

For some reason, despite the public outcry back in December when 6,000 parents and community leaders rallied on New Haven’s Green and the fact that thousands of students remain on charter school waiting lists, a moratorium is being proposed once again.

I say “once again,” because a similar bill was proposed last year by Democratic State Representative Edwin Vargas, who’s responsible for spearheading this new bill.

Big surprise here – Vargas is a retired teacher and current member of AFT-CT, who won his seat due in large part to support from union members and lobbyists, including AFT President Melodie Peters.

What’s really scary is that, unlike the previous incarnation of this bill, which rightly died in committee, Proposed House Bill 6003 has quite a bit of support from other Democratic legislators — perhaps, because it’s worded in a way that’s incredibly misleading.

Here’s the full text from the Education Committee’s website:


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

That section 10-66bb of the general statutes be amended to place a moratorium on the approval of new charter schools by the Commissioner of Education; and further that the Department of Education conduct a review of existing charter schools for the purpose of replicating and implementing successful programs and models in the public schools in the state.

Statement of Purpose:

To get charter schools and public schools to work together to benefit the greatest number of students.

Hmm, that’s interesting: union-supported legislators are saying they want charter schools to work with public schools on innovative ideas to help all students.

Holding students hostage is the way to do that? That’s rich.

Especially when you consider that, time and again, it’s been union leadership who has fought against bringing innovations developed at charter schools to public schools students.

For instance, take Stamford public schools — earlier this year, when the Stamford Board of Education tried to pilot a highly successful, research-based math tutoring program for high school students developed at the Match School, a top rated charter school in Massachusetts, the Stamford Education Association threatened to file a labor dispute.

That’s not the only recent example either. The New Haven Federation of Teachers’ President David Cicarella has recently been campaigning against a partnership between the New Haven Public Schools and Achievement First Charter Schools.

It makes sense, though. When you’re terrified of new ideas and progress in our schools, play the refs to stifle your competition.

God forbid anyone think about what might be best for the students.



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